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Australia quietly deletes recognition of Jerusalem as Israel capital from govt website

A view of the Dome of the Rock and Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem on March 11, 2022. [Mostafa Alkharouf - Anadolu Agency]
A view of the Dome of the Rock and Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem on March 11, 2022 [Mostafa Alkharouf/Anadolu Agency]

The Australian government has seemingly walked back on its decision to recognise West Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, four years after its initial announcement that it would move its embassy to the city.

In a report by the Guardian newspaper, it was revealed that Australia's Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) deleted two sentences from its website within the past few days which proclaimed the move, indicating a decision to quietly cancel it.

The two sentences stated: "Consistent with this long-standing policy, in December 2018, Australia recognised West Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, being the seat of the Knesset and many of the institutions of the Israeli government." The DFAT added that "Australia looks forward to moving its embassy to West Jerusalem when practical, in support of, and after the final status determination of, a two-state solution."

READ: Snubbing US' pro-Israel statement, Australia adopts 'decent principled' stance on Palestine

The initial decision to recognise West Jerusalem as the capital of Israel was made by former Australian Prime Minister, Scott Morrison, in 2018, a year after the United States and its former President, Donald Trump, first announced its own recognition and called on other countries to do so.

Australia's Labour government – elected this Summer – guaranteed that it would reverse Morrison's move amid other policies of his, but that was reportedly not acted on until  The Guardian requested the DFAT for information regarding the issue.

According to a DFAT spokesperson, cited by the paper, the Australian government "considers the status of Jerusalem as a matter to be resolved as part of any peace negotiations".

The removal of the sentences comes two months after the government of Honduras – which joined the US in recognising Jerusalem as Israel's capital and moved its embassy – announced that it is considering moving its embassy back to Tel Aviv.

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