Palestinians slam Australia's 'irresponsible' decision on Jerusalem

Palestinians slam Australia's 'irresponsible' decision on Jerusalem
Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison has come under fire from Palestinian officials and Australian opposition leaders for his decision on Jerusalem.
2 min read
15 December, 2018
Saeb Erekat slammed Australia's decision as 'irresponsible' [AFP]

The Palestinian leadership on Saturday slammed Australia's decision to recognise west Jerusalem as Israel's capital as "irresponsible", saying it violates international law.

The country became one of just a few to follow US President Donald Trump's lead in recognising the contested city as Israel's capital.

"From the beginning, we've perceived the Australian government's decision to recognise Jerusalem as Israel's capital as one wherein petty domestic politics steer irresponsible policies that contradict world peace and security," senior Palestinian official Saeb Erekat said in a statement following the Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison's announcement on Jerusalem on Saturday.

"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.

Australia on Saturday said it would be opening a defence and trade office in the west of the holy city. But Morrison also committed to recognising a future state of Palestine with east Jerusalem as its capital.

Both Israelis and Palestinians claim Jerusalem as their capital.

Morrison had earlier floated the idea that Australia may follow the contentious US move of relocating its embassy to Jerusalem from Tel Aviv, but it was seen by many Australians as a political stunt aimed to winning the by-election for a Sydney seat with a high Jewish population.

The consideration also sparked backlash from Muslim-majority Indonesia and Malaysia, causing a key a free trade deal with Australia to be delayed.

The decision not to move Australia's embassy has drawn criticism from lawmakers, with opposition leader Bill calling Morrison's decision a "humiliating backdown" from the October by-election campaign.