Committed to West Jerusalem as capital

Prime Minister Scott Morrison. Photo: AAP Image/Lukas Coch

COMMUNAL leaders have welcomed the opening of a new Australian Trade and Defence Office in Jerusalem as a sign of Australia’s continued commitment to recognising Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

National chairman of the Australia Israel & Jewish Affairs Council (AIJAC) Mark Leibler commented, “Building on the Australian government’s welcome and principled recognition of the reality that Jerusalem is Israel’s capital and has been since 1949, this office should both give that recognition concrete form and help further develop the already extensive and mutually beneficial trade ties between Israel and Australia.”

In December last year, Prime Minister Scott Morrison recognised West Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and announced plans to move trade and defence-related offices there within 12 months.

The office, operating under the auspices of Austrade, opened last Friday and is located on King George Street in downtown Jerusalem.

The Executive Council of Australian Jewry also welcomed the announcement, with co-CEO Peter Wertheim remarking, “We thank the Australian government and Prime Minister Scott Morrison for keeping their promise to open a new Australian Trade and Defence Office in Jerusalem … We welcome the opportunities that the new office will open up for Australia’s trade, investment, defence industry, education and innovation partnerships with Israeli industry, including maximising opportunities for Australia’s high-tech and defence exports industries.”

The Trade and Defence Office will also facilitate business meetings and programs for visitors, as well as promote Australian capabilities in Israel.

Expressing his hope and the expectation that the office will remain open regardless of the federal election outcome next month, AIJAC executive director Dr Colin Rubenstein added, “We also look forward to the Australian government eventually relocating our embassy in Israel to Jerusalem, helping to end the discriminatory situation whereby, for the last 70 years, Israel has been the only country in the world not permitted to nominate its own capital on its own sovereign territory.”

SOPHIE DEUTSCH