Knesset Speaker: Australia's Jerusalem Policy May Cause Palestinian Violence

'We expected more from a friendly country like Australia,' says Yuli Edelstein of decision to recognize West Jerusalem as Israel's capital

Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein
Ytizhak Harari/Knesset Spokesman's Office

Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein criticized the Australian prime minister on Sunday for saying that Australia would only move its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem after Israel and the Palestinians reach a peace agreement. 

According to Edelstein, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison's statement could indirectly encourage Palestinian violence.

In an interview with Army Radio, Edelstein also commented on Australia's recognition of West Jerusalem as Israel's capital, saying: “We expected more from a friendly country like Australia.”

Israel annexed East Jerusalem following the 1967 Six-Day War and considers the entire city as its capital. The Palestinian Authority, however, said East Jerusalem should be the capital of a future Palestinian state.

"[Australia's stance] sets us back several years, years when the world tried to give the keys to a future solution to irresponsible entities such as the Palestinian Authority and the Palestine Liberation Organization and nothing came of it," Edelstein said.

Referring to the Oslo peace agreements of the 1990s that established the Palestinian Authority, Edelstein said Australia's stance is an example of an approach requiring both sides to agree. "These things not only don’t help stability in the region, but in fact it might be said that they certainly work indirectly to [encourage] Palestinian violence and [to encourage] more of their dreams.”

Edelstein said there was nothing new in Morrison’s statement and he hoped Israel’s “cool reaction” would make it clear to Australia that this was not what Israel had hoped for. Army Radio host Efi Triger suggested in the interview that perhaps the very fact the Australian announcement angered the Palestinian means "we need to be satisfied, to which Edelstein replied: “If I were in the Palestinians' position, I wouldn’t be too angry."

Referring to the terrorist attacks this month against Israelis in the West Bank, the Knesset speaker said they had been inspired by Palestinian Authority, who he said is "fully responsible" for them. "If I were in their place, I would keep quiet," he said.

An investigation by Israeli security forces into terrorist attacks last week near the settlements of Ofra and Givat Assaf found that they were the work of a single cell affiliated with Hamas, the Palestinian Authority's Gaza-based rival.