Australia appears to be on the way to moving its embassy to Israel’s capital.
Australia is set to formally recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, after the country’s national security committee approved the move on Tuesday night, The Times of Israelreported.
The Australian government is expected to formally announce the decision although it remains unclear if the country intends to recognize the entirety of Jerusalem as the Israeli capital, or just west Jerusalem.
Meanwhile, senior government sources told The Australian newspaper that the embassy relocation from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem appears to have been delayed because of the projected cost, estimated at $200 million. Instead, a consular office will be set up in Jerusalem.
Australia’s Prime Minister Scott Morrison in October said he was “open” to recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of the Jewish state, and that it would be “sensible” and “persuasive” to relocate the embassy there.
In a follow-up conversation with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, the Australian leader said: “We’re committed to a two-state solution, but frankly it hasn’t been going that well, not a lot of progress has been made, and you don’t keep doing the same thing and expect different results.”
In a statement on social media on Tuesday, senior Palestinian official Saeb Erekat harshly criticized Australia’s decision and called on Arab and Muslim countries to sever all diplomatic ties with the country, if Australia moves ahead with the announcement.
Other countries, among them the Czech Republic and Brazil, have announced their intention to move their embassies to Jerusalem. Brazil’s President-elect Jair Bolsonaro said in November: “As previously stated during our campaign, we intend to transfer the Brazilian Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. Israel is a sovereign state and we shall duly respect that.”
The United States relocated its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem on May 14, followed by Guatemala two days later. Paraguay also moved its embassy last May before returning it to Tel Aviv in September.