JERUSALEM: Israeli prime minister Yair Lapid today sharply criticised Australia’s decision to stop recognising west Jerusalem as his country’s capital, reversing a decision by a previous right-wing government.
Lapid described the move as a “hasty response,” adding: “We can only hope that the Australian government manages other matters more seriously and professionally.”
“Jerusalem is the eternal and united capital of Israel and nothing will ever change that,” the prime minister added in a statement released by his office.
The Israeli foreign ministry said it had summoned the Australian ambassador to lodge a formal protest.
Announcing the change of policy by Australia’s centre-left government, foreign minister Penny Wong said the city’s status should be decided through peace talks between Israelis and Palestinians, and not through unilateral decisions.
“We will not support an approach that undermines” a two-state solution, she said, adding: “Australia’s embassy has always been, and remains, in Tel Aviv.”
In 2018 a conservative government led by Scott Morrison followed then US president Donald Trump’s lead in naming west Jerusalem as the Israeli capital.
The move caused a domestic backlash in Australia and caused friction with neighbouring Indonesia – the world’s most populous Muslim-majority nation – temporarily derailing a free trade deal.
Jerusalem is claimed by both Israelis and Palestinians, and most foreign governments avoid formally declaring it the capital of any state.