Palestinian officials on Saturday condemned the Australian government’s decision to recognize west Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and called the move an “irresponsible policy that contradicts world peace and security.”
PLO Secretary General Saeb Erekat said that the Palestinians perceive the decision “as one wherein petty domestic policies steer irresponsible policies that contradict world peace and security.” The reference to West Jerusalem in their announcement reflects Australis’a inability to go ahead as was previously announced.”
Erekat noted that in his announcement, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison mentions that the decision was made in light of alleged Australian support for the two-sate solution. “However, the policies of this Australian administration have done nothing to advance the two-step solution,” Erekat charged. “In fact, Australia has chosen to join [US President Donald] Trump, [Prime Minister Benjamin] Netanyahu, and two other governments, in voting against the two-state solution, in a UN resolution supported by 165 nations. Additionally, the Australian government is refusing to recognize Palestine as a state, voting in international forums against the Palestinian right to self-determination, and continuing to trade with Israeli settlements.”
Erekat said that “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.” Australia’s announcement that it will open a trade office in Jerusalem, he added, “negates its very claim that it abides by UN Security Council Resolution 478, which refers to Israel’s annexation of Jerusalem as null and void and calls upon countries to withdraw diplomatic missions from the city.”
PA Foreign Minister Riad al-Malki said in a statement that he “rejects and condemns” the Australian decision. The decision, he said, “does not absolve the Australian government of its complete contradiction with the references of the peace process, which are based on international law that considers East Jerusalem as an occupied Palestinian territory, and that any recognition of West Jerusalem as Israel’s capital must be accompanied by recognition of East Jerusalem as the capital of Palestine.”
Malki accused the Australian government of “total bias” towards Israel. He also accused the Australian prime minister of seeking to “appease the Zionist lobby” in Australia. The Palestinians, he added, will study their future steps in response to the Australian decision in coordination with the Arab League and the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, which consists of 57 member states.
PLO Executive Committee member Hanan Ashrawi condemned the decision and said it would be “unilateral, illegal and would jeopardize the chances for peace.” She warned that the “dangerous decision would undermine security and stability in the region and accused Morrison of “using Palestinian rights to bribe the Zionist lobby to gain its support in the election.”