Secretary of State Penny Wong says the government “regrets” the previous administration’s decision and reiterates its commitment to a two-state solution.
Australia says it will no longer recognize West Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, following a decision by former Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s government in 2018.
“Today, the government reaffirmed Australia’s previous and longstanding position that Jerusalem is a final status issue to be resolved as part of peace negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian people,” Foreign Secretary Penny Wong said in a statement. .
“This returns the Morrison government’s recognition of West Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.”
Wong reiterated that the Australian embassy would remain in Tel Aviv and that Canberra was committed to a two-state solution “in which Israel and a future Palestinian state coexist in peace and security, within internationally recognized borders”.
She added: “We will not support an approach that undermines this prospect.”
The status of Jerusalem is one of the biggest sticking points in efforts to reach a peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinians.
Israel views the entire city, including the eastern sector it annexed after the 1967 Middle East war, as its capital, while Palestinian officials, with broad international support, want occupied East Jerusalem as the capital of a future state they hope to establish in the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip.
Morrison announced that his conservative government would recognize West Jerusalem as Israel’s capital after the United States backtracked on decades of policy by recognizing the city and moving the US embassy there from Tel Aviv.
The Australian decision was widely criticized by pro-Palestinian groups and by the Labor party, which was then in the opposition and vowed to reverse the step if elected.
“I regret that Mr Morrison’s decision to engage in politics has caused Australia to change its position,” Wong said.
She added that the government of Anthony Albanian would reaffirm Australia’s commitment to international efforts for “a just and sustainable two-state solution”.
Australia would “always be a steadfast friend of Israel,” the statement said, and that its representatives are “equally staunch supporters of the Palestinian people.”
The potential change was first reported on Monday by the London-based newspaper The Guardian, after it noted that sentences referring to West Jerusalem and plans for the Australian embassy’s eventual relocation had been scrapped.