Australia Won’t Move Embassy to Yerushalayim

YERUSHALAYIM -
Australia embassy
Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu (R) and Paraguayan President Horacio Cartes at the opening ceremony of the Paraguayan embassy in Yerushalayim on May 21. (Amos Ben Gershom/GPO)

Australia became the latest country to decline Israel’s invitation to move its embassy to Yerushalayim over the weekend.

Australia’s Foreign Affairs Minister Julie Bishop made the policy clear after the Liberal party’s youth arm voted for a non-binding resolution to relocate its embassy from Tel Aviv to Yerushalayim, and to suspend all aid to the Palestinian Authority “until it terminates its ‘martyr’s fund” for terrorists’ families.

“While I understand the sentiment behind this resolution, the Australian government will not be moving our embassy to Jerusalem,” Bishop said.

Regarding financial aid to the Palestinians, that will also not be stopped. However, Bishop did say she had recently written to PA Foreign Minister Riyad al-Maliki, to ensure that the $43 million in Australian aid there is spent on health, education and governance, not terrorism.

“Jerusalem is a final status issue and we have maintained that position for decades and we are doing all we can do to ensure that any support we give to the Palestinian Authority is only used for purposes that we determine,” she said.

Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borissov said during a visit with Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu in Yerushalayim last week that his country will not be moving its embassy there. Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz voiced the same sentiment while in the capital, though in neither case did the issue mar a friendly visit.

A few days before that, French President Emmanuel Macron’s opposition to the embassy move was on display in a joint press conference with Mr. Netanyahu in Paris, in which he claimed that the transfer “leads to people dying,” [ostensibly in protests against it] and expressed his “condemnation of any form of violence toward civilians and in particular, these past few weeks in Gaza.”

The European Union opposes the U.S. Embassy move, which Brussels says should be deferred until after the conclusion of a peace deal with the Palestinian Authority.

To date, only Guatemala and Paraguay have followed the American example.