The Australian left-wing Labor government has created a diplomatic crisis after it reversed the previous government’s policy of recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of the country.
Taking to social media on Tuesday, Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lipid admonished the Australian government for what he saw as a hasty and unprofessional response.
“In light of the way this decision was made in Australia, as a hasty response to an incorrect report in the media, we can only hope that the Australian government manages other matters more seriously and professionally,” he said.
He then noted that Jerusalem was “the eternal and united capital of Israel, and nothing will ever change that.”
There are also reports that the Israeli Foreign Ministry’s Political Director Aliza Bin-Noun has called in Australia’s ambassador to the country, Ambassador Paul Griffiths, according to the Jerusalem Post.
Bin-Noun communicated Jerusalem’s disappointment at the change in policy, calling it “a miserable decision that ignores the deep and eternal connection between Israel and its historic capital and that goes against the good relations between Israel and Australia,” the news agency reported.
The Israeli foreign minister also was reported to have protested the timing of the announcement, noting that the decision had come during the period of Sukkot and Simhat Torah, which is when the Jewish people celebrate their special connection to the city of Jerusalem.
Australian Foreign Minister’s anti-Semitism
When announcing the decision, Australia’s Foreign Minister Penny Wong said that the controversial policy reversal would not affect Australia’s relationship to Israel.
“Australia will always be a steadfast friend of Israel. We were among the first countries to formally recognise Israel under Labor Prime Minister Ben Chifley. This Government will not waver in its support of Israel and the Jewish community in Australia,” she said. “We are equally unwavering supporters of the Palestinian people, providing humanitarian support every year since 1951 and advocating for resumed peace negotiations.”
She also blamed any problems that arose form the decision on the actions of former Prime Minister Scott Morrison, remarking that she regretted that Morrison’s “decision to play politics” had caused distress.
However, Wong has been vocal in her criticism of the December 2018 decision by the Morrison government to recognize West Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, which followed the same decision by the U.S. Trump administration.
“Labor does not support unilateral recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and in government would reverse this decision. The status of Jerusalem can only be resolved as part of any peace negotiations and two-state solution,” Wong wrote on Twitter at the time.
Last year, the center-left Labor Party pledged to recognize Palestine as a sovereign state if it won government, going against the outline of the Oslo Peace Accord signed between Israel and the Palestinian Authority under President Bill Clinton.
Arthur Tane, executive director of The Council of Middle East Relations in Canberra, said the Labor Party’s announcement “came out of nowhere.”
“The state of Palestine is not known for its democracy. You have a limited number of parties, all with the same kind of platform. They are very anti-Israeli, and very much in support of the destruction of Israel,” he previously told The Epoch Times.
“Is Albanese trying to strengthen his position among the left? Is a challenge coming his way? Because it is really unusual that it should have occurred at this time.”