PRIME Minister Malcolm Turnbull has reiterated that Australia’s Embassy in Israel will remain in Tel Aviv following the opening of the United States Embassy in Jerusalem on Monday.
Australia was not represented among the diplomats from the more than 30 countries present at the high-profile ceremony, with Foreign Minister Julie Bishop telling The AJN that ambassador Chris Cannan was not in Israel at the time.
But while Australia has proven itself a staunch friend of the Jewish State, Turnbull told reporters in Melbourne on Tuesday, “We have taken the view – as indeed, most countries have – that it’s more conducive to the peace process to keep the Embassy in Tel Aviv.”
The Prime Minister found disagreement within his own government, however, with predecessor Tony Abbott tweeting on Monday, “The US Embassy is now in West Jerusalem, which has been Israel’s capital for nearly 70 years. Australia should consider following Trump’s move.”
The sentiment was echoed by government Senator James Paterson, who told The AJN, “The new US Embassy in Israel’s rightful capital, Jerusalem, has opened successfully without the sky falling in.
“Australia could follow suit without the long-predicted backlash. Doing so would accept the obvious reality on the ground and is the right thing to do.”
Former Australian ambassador to Israel Dave Sharma weighed in, tweeting, “Even if we don’t move Embassy, we shld [sic] at least consider recognising Jerusalem as Israel’s capital (w/o prejudice to its final boundaries or potential status as capital of future Palestinian state).”
Israeli ambassador to Australia Mark Sofer also put the case this week.
“The opening of the US Embassy in Jerusalem is recognising what we have known all along,” he said.
Jerusalem is, as it has always been and always will be, Israel’s united capital. Peace can only be achieved by acknowledging that fact, not denying it.”
Last week, Zionist Federation of Australia president Danny Lamm wrote to the Prime Minister urging him “to seriously consider” moving the Embassy.
“Every sovereign nation should have the right to define where their capital is. Moving Australia’s Embassy to Jerusalem will simply right a historical wrong.”
Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council executive director Colin Rubenstein said, “All governments of good will, including Australia’s, should be asking themselves what is genuinely achieved by clinging to an outdated and unjust refusal to acknowledge the basic reality that Jerusalem has long been Israel’s capital and always will be.”