Australia flip-flops on past decision around Israel’s capital


Australia today flip-flopped on a past decision it made around the capital of Israel, an infamously hot-button issue, several news outlets reported.

While Australia recognised West Jerusalem as Israel’s capital in 2018, the Australian government has now reversed this decision. Australia’s Foreign Minister Penny Wong said that Australia is committed to peace between Israel and Palestine and that the country would not support “an approach that undermines this prospect.”

Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid has called the reversal a “hasty response to an incorrect report in the media.”

Israeli officials often refer to Jerusalem as the country’s “eternal and undivided capital” but Palestinians want East Jerusalem to be the capital of their desired future state.

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Australia’s 2018 decision to recognise West Jerusalem as Israel’s capital came after a move made by former US President Donald Trump. In 2017, Trump recognised Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. In 2018, the US embassy was relocated from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. Trump’s move was highly criticised across the globe.

Following the decision’s reversal, Wong has stressed that she is both a steadfast friend of Israel and an unwavering supporter of the Palestinian people.

Jerusalem is one of the most tense and contested areas in the conflict between Israelis and Palestinians. The holy sites of all three major Abrahamic religions, Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, are located there.

There have been many issues surrounding Israel’s desire to annex East Jerusalem. In the past year, there has been a major conflict in Jerusalem’s Sheikh Jarrah neighbourhood taking place. While Israeli authorities said the threat to remove Palestinians from their homes in the neighbourhood was over a “rent dispute,” Palestinians referred to it as “ethnic cleansing.”

The extremist ideologies prevalent on both sides of the conflict can be felt heavily in Jerusalem. During Israel’s annual ‘Flag March,’ it’s common for videos to circle of Right Wing Israeli marchers yelling “Death to Arabs.”

Palestinians have their hateful chants too. Palestinians, particularly in Jerusalem, have recited a chant which in Arabic translates to “Jews, remember Khaybar, the army of Muhammad is returning.” The chant refers to a part of Islamic history when Muslims captured territory from Jews. As Israelis have become increasingly right wing, Palestinians have supported extremist groups like Hamas.

Time will tell if there’s ever an end to a conflict that seems to never stop.

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Tara Abhasakun

A Thai-American dual citizen, Tara has reported news and spoken on a number of human rights and cultural news issues in Thailand. She holds a Bachelor’s Degree in history from The College of Wooster. She interned at Southeast Asia Globe, and has written for a number of outlets. Tara reports on a range of Thailand news issues.

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