Middle East

Palestinians slam Australia's move on Jerusalem

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison, Dec. 15, 2018. (AAP Image/Mick Tsikas via Reuters)

RAMALLAH/OCCUPIED JERUSALEM, Palestine: The Palestinian leadership Saturday described as "irresponsible" Australia's recognition of west Jerusalem as Israel's capital, saying it violated international law.

The country became one of just a few to follow United States President Donald Trump's lead and recognize the contested city as Israel's capital.

Israel, meanwhile, welcomed Australia's move as "a step in the right direction.”

Australia said it would open a defense and trade office in the west of the holy city and Prime Minister Scott Morrison also committed to recognizing a future state of Palestine with east Jerusalem as its capital.

Both Israelis and Palestinians claim Jerusalem as their capital.

Most foreign nations avoided moving embassies there to prevent inflaming peace talks on the city's final status – until Trump unilaterally moved the U.S. Embassy there earlier this year.

Senior Palestinian official Saeb Erekat said in a statement that the Australian decision to open a trade office in the city violated a United Nations resolution.

"From the beginning, we've perceived the Australian government's decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital as one wherein petty domestic politics steer irresponsible policies that contradict world peace and security," he said in a statement.

"All of Jerusalem remains a final status issue for negotiations, while east Jerusalem, under international law, is an integral part of the occupied Palestinian territory," he added.

Morrison earlier Saturday had announced his country's move on Jerusalem.

"Australia now recognizes west Jerusalem – being the seat of the Knesset and many of the institutions of government – is the capital of Israel," he said in Sydney.

 

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