Australia formally recognizes West Jerusalem as Israel’s capital

Palestinians pass by a section of the controversial Israeli barrier on their way to attend Friday prayer of the holy fasting month of Ramadan in Jerusalem’s Al-Aqsa mosque, in Bethlehem in the occupied West Bank June 1, 2018. REUTERS/Mussa Qawasma

SYDNEY (Reuters) – Australia formally recognizes West Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, reversing decades of Middle East policy, but will not move its embassy there immediately, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said on Saturday.

“Australia now recognizes West Jerusalem, being the seat of the Knesset and many of the institutions of government, is the capital of Israel,” Morrison said.

“We look forward to moving our embassy to West Jerusalem when practical … and after final status determination,” he told reporters in Sydney.

Morrison said in October he was open to shifting the embassy. President Donald Trump’s decision to move the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem in May delighted Israel, infuriated Palestinians and upset the wider Arab world and Western allies.

Reporting by Tom Westbrook; Additional reporting by Alison Bevege; Editing by Paul Tait

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