Australia Set to Recognize Jerusalem as Israel's Capital, Report Says

The embassy however will apparently not be relocated to the city ■ Unclear whether the government will only recognize West Jerusalem ■ Decision to be formally announced Wednesday

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison, November 22, 2018.
Mark Metcalfe,AP

Australia's government is set to recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital, SBS reported Tuesday. According to the report, the decision will be ratified at a cabinet meeting Tuesday, but will only be formally announced on Wednesday.

It was unclear whether the Australian government will recognize Jerusalem or only West Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, according to a report in The Australian.

The embassy however will not be moved to the newly recognized capital, the report said, and a consular office will be set up in the city. Sources told SBS that the reason that the embassy will not be relocated was the cost of the move, estimated at $200 million.

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison told Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in October that he is considering recognizing Jerusalem as Israel's capital and transferring the embassy there.

Morrison, a devout evangelist and leader of the Liberal Party, took office in August. "I am open to further pursuing (moving the embassy) and doing that together with Cabinet colleagues," the Daily Telegraph quoted Morrison as saying. "I am saying I’m open to considering it."

Despite the controversial move, Morrison appeared to voice his commitment to a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. “This is all in the context of me continuing our support for the two-step [sic] solution policy in the Middle East,” Morrison added.

Trump abruptly reversed decades of U.S. policy last year when he recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, generating outrage from Palestinians and the Arab world and concern among Washington’s Western allies. Following the recognition, the U.S. embassy was moved from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem in May.

Paraguay officially moved its country’s embassy to Jerusalem on May 21, becoming the third country to move its embassy to Jerusalem, following the United States and Guatemala.