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Australian government reverses recognition of West al-Quds as 'capital' of Israel

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
Australia's Foreign Minister Penny Wong (file photo)

The Australian government says it has reversed a previous controversial decision taken by its conservative predecessor to recognize the western part of the occupied city of al-Quds as the Israeli regime's so-called capital.

During a media briefing on Tuesday, Foreign Minister Penny Wong said the government "recommits Australia to international efforts
in the responsible pursuit of progress towards a just and enduring ... solution" to the issue of Palestine.

She added that the status of al-Quds should be decided through talks between Israelis and Palestinians, and not through unilateral decisions.

The Israeli regime occupied the western part of the city during a heavily-Western-backed war in 1948. It also occupied the Palestinian territory of the West Bank, including East al-Quds, in a another war in 1967.

Ever since, the apartheid regime has dotted the territory with hundreds of illegal settlements that have come to house hundreds of thousands of Israeli settlers.

Palestinians want the West Bank as part of a future independent state with East al-Quds as its capital. The Israeli regime, however, lays claim to the entire city as its so-called capital.

Back in 2018, former previous Prime Minister Scott Morrison reversed decades of Australia's Middle East policy by saying his country recognized West al-Quds as the "capital" of Israel, but would not move its embassy there immediately.

"I regret that Mr. Morrison’s decision to play politics resulted in Australia’s shifting position, and the distress these shifts have caused to many people in the Australian community who care deeply about this issue," Wong said in another part of her remarks.

"You know what this was? This was a cynical play, unsuccessful, to win the seat of Wentworth and a by-election," she added.

Morrison had flagged moving the embassy from Tel Aviv in 2018 just days before a by-election in a Sydney electorate with a strong Jewish representation. It drew criticism from Muslim-majority neighbors such as Indonesia and Malaysia.

Morrison's Liberal-led coalition lost a national election in May. The center-left Labor party, with Anthony Albanese as prime minister and Wong as foreign minister, came to power in May 2022.

At that time, Indonesian Foreign Ministry spokesman underlined the sensitivity of Australia’s decision, saying “the issue of Palestine is very important to Indonesia and the people of Indonesia." 

Indonesian Defense Ministry spokesman also warned of a possible revision in military cooperation with Australia to see whether its continuation “is beneficial for both parties.”

The decision was also condemned by Palestinians as an obstacle to achieving peace in the region, urging Arab countries to review their trade and political ties with Canberra.


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