Australia recognizes west Jerusalem as Israel’s capital

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By Associated Press

SYDNEY — Australia has decided to formally recognize west Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, reversing decades of Middle East policy, Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced Saturday.

But the Australian Embassy won’t be moved there from Tel Aviv until there’s a peace settlement between Israel and Palestinians, he said in a speech.

While the embassy move is delayed, Morrison said his government will establish a defense and trade office in Jerusalem and will also start looking for an appropriate site for the embassy.

“The Australian government has decided that Australia now recognizes west Jerusalem, as the seat of the Knesset and many of the institutions of government, is the capital of Israel,” Morrison said.

He said the decision respects both a commitment to a two-state solution and longstanding respect for relevant U.N. Security Council resolutions.

Morrison had earlier floated the idea that Australia may follow the contentious U.S. move of relocating its embassy to Jerusalem from Tel Aviv, but it was seen by many Australians as a political stunt. Critics called it a cynical attempt to win votes in a by-election in October for a Sydney seat with a high Jewish population — a poll his party subsequently lost.

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