Australia Says Won't Move Embassy to Jerusalem

Canberra believes Jerusalem is a final status issue, The Guardian reports

Australia's Foreign Minister Julie Bishop attends a meeting with Vietnam's Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Pham Binh Minh in Hanoi, Vietnam May 28, 2018.
\ KHAM/ REUTERS

Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop said Saturday that Australia will not move its embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, The Guardian reported.

Bishop stated that there would be no such move despite calls to do so by the youth branch of the Liberal party, to which she belongs. A non-binding resolution passed by the branch also urged the government to suspend aid to the Palestinian Authority "until it terminates its Martyr's fund.'"

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"While I understand the sentiment behind this resolution, the Australian government will not be moving our embassy to Jerusalem," The Guardian quoted Bishop as saying. "Jerusalem is a final status issue and we have maintained that position for decades and we are doing all we can to ensure that any support we give to the Palestinian Authority is only used for purposes that we determine."

Bishop insisted that Australian aid to the Palestinian Authority, amounting to $43 million in the next financial year, was being used only for humanitarian purposes.

"Our funding to the Palestinian Authority is subject to a memorandum of understanding, defining precisely how it is used and subject to very close audit to ensure that no funds are diverted to the so-called Martyr's fund," she said, according to the report.

Australia and the United States were the only countries in the UN Human Rights Council to vote against a resolution calling for an international inquiry into human rights in East Jerusalem, the West Bank and Gaza. The council voted 29-2 with 14 abstentions to back the resolution, which also condemned "the disproportionate and indiscriminate use of force by the Israeli occupying forces against Palestinian civilians." 

The special session of the Human Rights Council was convened after the bloodiest day for Palestinians in years, when 60 were killed by Israeli gunfire during demonstrations that Israel said included attempts to breach its frontier fence on the same day that the U.S. officially moved its embassy to Jerusalem.