Australia’s FM Rules Out Moving Embassy to Jerusalem

australia's politics
Amos Ben Gershom/GPO via Getty

Australia will not follow U.S. President Donald Trump’s lead and move its embassy to Jerusalem, Foreign Minister Julie Bishop has said, defying her own governing Liberal Party’s request to do so.

At the Liberal party’s annual federal council in Sydney, MPs and the party’s youth arm had called on the government to relocate its embassy from Tel Aviv to Israel’s capital, and to suspend all aid to the Palestinian Authority “until it terminates its ‘Martyr’s fund” which rewards terrorists and their families with support payments.

The non-binding motion was carried in a vote 43 to 31, but the foreign minister said there was no chance the government would change existing policy. There are 110 council delegates who have voting rights at the national council.

The U.S. moved its Israeli mission to Jerusalem in April. Guatemala and Paraguay have followed suit.

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

“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.”

Bishop said she had recently written to her Palestinian counterpart to ensure Australian aid, about $43m in the next financial year, was being spent on health, education and governance rather than funding anti-Israel terrorism.

“Our funding to the Palestinian Authority is subject to a memorandum of understanding, defining precisely how it is used and subject to very close audit to ensure that no funds are diverted to the so-called Martyr’s fund,” she said.

This week Australia was one of only eight countries to vote against a United Nations General Assembly resolution condemning Israel’s handling of violent anti-Israel terrorist protests on the Gaza border.

The eight countries that voted against were the U.S., Israel, Australia, Marshall Islands, Micronesia, Nauru, Togo and the Solomon Islands.

Australia was also the only country besides the U.S. to oppose the UN Human Rights Council’s establishment of an investigation into Israel’s killing of Palestinians during the same violent protests.

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