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Australia reverses Israel capital decision

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The Albanese government has reversed a decision by the previous Coalition government to recognise West Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

Foreign Minister Penny Wong said the conflict between Israel and Palestine should be resolved through peace negotiations between the two.

Both Israel and Palestine claim Jerusalem as their capital.

Senator Wong said Jerusalem remained a final-status issue, meaning its status was subject to the peace negotiations.

She described the move to recognise West Jerusalem by former prime minister Scott Morrison as purely political.

“The 2018 decision put Australia out of step with the majority of the international community and it was received with great concern,” she said on Tuesday.

“This was a cynical play, unsuccessfully, to win the seat of Wentworth at a byelection.”

Mr Morrison announced the surprise decision to follow Donald Trump in relocating Australia’s embassy in Tel Aviv to Jerusalem in the days leading up to the 2018 byelection in former PM Malcolm Turnbull’s seat of Wentworth.

It was seen as effectively recognising the historically disputed Middle Eastern city as Israel’s capital – and made Australia just just the second major nation to proceed with such a controversial move.

It apparently followed talks with Dave Sharma, a former ambassador to Israel who was then the Liberal Party’s candidate in Wentworth. Mr Sharma won the byelection just days later.

Senator Wong said Australia’s embassy “has always been, and remains, in Tel Aviv”.

-with AAP



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