Australia is out of touch regarding the Jewish connection to Jerusalem - opinion

Whether this decision was made out of ignorance or by succumbing to Palestinian pressure, it is nonetheless outrageous.

 MASSES GATHER at the Western Wall on Yom Kippur eve, earlier this month. Jerusalem has been the Jewish capital since its establishment by King David, more than 3,000 years ago. (photo credit: Arie Leib Abrams/Flash90)
MASSES GATHER at the Western Wall on Yom Kippur eve, earlier this month. Jerusalem has been the Jewish capital since its establishment by King David, more than 3,000 years ago.
(photo credit: Arie Leib Abrams/Flash90)

These are extremely dangerous times in human history. Certainly, we are experiencing the most challenging threats to the international community since World War Two.

In addition to man-made crises, such as Russia’s war on Ukraine, Iran’s nuclear buildup and its terror campaign throughout the Middle East and beyond, and the COVID pandemic, our civilization faces natural disasters caused by climate change, glacial melting and rising sea levels, including recent flooding Australia has faced.

World governments, today, contemplate how to prevent Russia from deploying its nuclear arsenal in Europe, to stabilize the economy, to stop runaway inflation and increased energy prices, and to cope with China’s and North Korea’s expansionist moves. Amid all of this, the Australian government took the time and effort to revoke its recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

This government is out of touch with what is really happening in the Middle East. It is particularly counter to the trend of Arab and Israeli peace and normalization processes, as seen in the success of the Abraham Accords.

Whether this decision was made out of ignorance or by succumbing to Palestinian pressure, it is nonetheless outrageous. Jerusalem has been the Jewish capital since its establishment by King David more than 3,000 years ago. It has only been the capital for the Jewish people, as none of the many occupiers of the land of Israel declared it as their own.

 The national flags of Australia and Israel are seen outside the building housing the Australian Embassy in Tel Aviv, Israel October 16, 2018. (credit: REUTERS/AMIR COHEN) The national flags of Australia and Israel are seen outside the building housing the Australian Embassy in Tel Aviv, Israel October 16, 2018. (credit: REUTERS/AMIR COHEN)

The Palestinians assumed their name only after the Jews regained their independence in 1948 and never showed any attachment to east Jerusalem, which was occupied by Jordan until 1967. The Oslo Accords of 1993 introduced many major concessions as peace offerings to the Palestinians, including the creation of a Palestinian state, which never existed in all of history.

Right to exist

This was not to be, as the Palestinians consistently refused to acknowledge Israel’s right to exist and have continued daily terror attacks on Israel. It is specifically because of the Palestinian intransigence that the United States realized the Palestinians could not be given veto power on Israel’s security, stability and future.

After the recognition by the US of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, other countries, including Australia, followed suit. This was an important decision, showing an understanding of the history and the political reality of the Middle East. It also manifested the warm relations between Australia and Israel as two Western democracies, bound by common values and interests.

Australia, as Israel and other democracies, faces threats from aggressive non-democratic powers. Just as the two countries were gearing up for close cooperation in the high tech areas of sustainability in food security, water availability and defense technologies, including cyber and missile defense, Israel received a slap in the face with this unfriendly act.

The purpose of this act is incomprehensible, as it does not relate to any of Australia’s interests. Still, it definitely hurts Israel’s interests by encouraging and emboldening the Palestinians and other nefarious actors to step up their terror. Appeasement has never led to peace and only hardened an aggressor’s resolve.

It is not too late for the Australian government to correct its error. It should adhere to the universal conduct of respecting the right of a sovereign nation to decide its capital. To be sure, the fate of Jerusalem will not be determined by this irresponsible and weak decision. It may, however, adversely affect bilateral relations between Canberra and Jerusalem.

The writer served as Israel’s ambassador to the US from July 2002 to November 2006.