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Australia says it will end its recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital

In this image taken from video, Australian Foreign Minister Penny Wong speaks during a press conference, Tuesday, Oct. 18, 2022, in Canberra, Australia. Wong announced Australia has reversed a previous government's recognition of West Jerusalem as Israel's capital. (Australia Pool via AP)
In this image taken from video, Australian Foreign Minister Penny Wong speaks during a press conference, Tuesday, Oct. 18, 2022, in Canberra, Australia. Wong announced Australia has reversed a previous government's recognition of West Jerusalem as Israel's capital. (Australia Pool via AP)

CANBERRA, Australia — Australia has reversed a previous government's recognition of West Jerusalem as Israel's capital, the foreign minister said Tuesday.

The center-left Labor Party government Cabinet agreed to again recognize Tel Aviv as the capital and reaffirmed that Jerusalem's status must be resolved in peace negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians, Foreign Minister Penny Wong said.

Australia remained committed to a two-party solution to the conflict between Israelis and Palestinians, and "we will not support an approach that undermines this prospect," Wong said.

Former conservative Prime Minister Scott Morrison formally recognized West Jerusalem as Israel's capital in December 2018, although the Australian embassy remained in Tel Aviv.

The change followed then-U.S. President Donald Trump's decision to shift the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. President Joe Biden has kept the embassy in Jerusalem as the U.S. steps back from its once-intense mediation between the Israelis and Palestinians, who have not held substantive peace talks in more than a decade.

Wong described Morrison's move as out of step internationally and a "cynical play" to win a byelection in a Sydney locale with a large Jewish population.

Morrison's Liberal Party ran Jewish candidate Dave Sharma who was defeated in the byelection but won the seat in the next general election.

Morrison's government was elected out of office in May after nine years in power.

Nasser Mashni, vice president of the human rights group Australia Palestine Advocacy Network, thanked the government for "differentiating itself from the dangerous political posturing of the previous government."

"This reversal brings Australia back into the international consensus — Australia must not pre-empt the final status of Jerusalem," Mashni said in a statement.

"Israel asserts that the entire city is exclusively theirs, denying Palestinian connection to their ancient spiritual, cultural and economic capital," Mashni added.

Opposition foreign affairs spokesperson Simon Birmingham did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Copyright 2022 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.