COMMUNAL leaders were optimistic this week amid reports that Australia would officially recognise Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.
The issue arose during the recent Wentworth by-election, when Prime Minister Scott Morrison indicated he would consider relocating Australia’s embassy from Tel Aviv. Since that announcement, the issue has been the cause of diplomatic tensions with Indonesia and Malaysia.
Morrison recently said he would make his decision by Christmas, and communal leaders were buoyant when news surfaced that a decision could be announced this week.
The Australian reported that a decision to recognise Jerusalem as the capital of Israel would be approved by the national security committee on Monday night and then ratified by cabinet on Tuesday morning. A question mark, however, hung over whether recognition would be applied to all of Jerusalem or just the western part of the city.
The same report, meanwhile, also noted that Australia would not move its embassy, because it would cost more than $200 million.
The news reverberated across the Middle East, as newspapers across the world picked up the story.
Dr Saeb Erekat, secretary-general of the Palestine Liberation Organisation, took to Twitter and called on all Arab and Muslim countries to sever relations with Australia if it went ahead and recognised Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.
When Australian expat Arsen Ostrovsky responded, noting that “Aussies are a tough bunch” and that they don’t like “threats, bullying and intimidation”, Erekat claimed that Australia would be violating international law by recognising Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.
Despite the rumours, and news stories suggesting an announcement was imminent, when The AJN went to press on Wednesday a decision on the issue had still not been announced.