Some, perhaps surprising, support from Bahrain to Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s decision for Australia to formally recognise West Jerusalem as the capital of Israel while leaving Australia’s embassy at its existing location in Tel Aviv. According to a tweet translated by Al Jazeera, Bahrain’s Foreign Minister Khalid bin Ahmed al-Khalifa said:
Australia’s stance does not impact the legitimate Palestinian demands, first among them being East Jerusalem as the capital of Palestine, and it does not contradict the Arab Peace Initiative.
This followed some evident disappointment within the Israeli government that Australia did not go further to recognise the whole of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital – this from Tzachi Hanegbi, Minister for Regional Cooperation.
#Australia is a great friend of #Israel and we greatly appreciate our friendship and warm relations. But there is no such thing as “West Jerusalem” and “East Jerusalem”. There is only Jerusalem, the eternal and undivided capital of the state of Israel.
— Tzachi Hanegbi | צחי הנגבי (@Tzachi_Hanegbi) December 15, 2018
While Palestinian official Saeb Erekat condemned Australia’s decision as:
one wherein petty domestic politics steer irresponsible policies that contradict world peace and security.
Arab League chief Ahmed Abul Gheit slammed what he described as Australia’s “glaring bias towards Israel.”
The Australian position is incomplete. Therefore, it stirs our dismay.
And Malaysia’s Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad said countries such as Australia had “no rights” to take the initiative in dividing Jerusalem:
Jerusalem should remain as it is now and not the capital of Israel.
But for all the words of criticism, the consequences in terms of immediate reaction appear circumscribed. No diplomatic severed, no obvious boycotts. Closer to home, the fate of Australia’s trade deal with Indonesia is uncertain, but Australia’s diplomats made a point to emphasise what the decision does not mean, as much as it does:
Media statement: Australian Middle East Policy pic.twitter.com/w1zzjCpebE
— Gary Quinlan (@DubesAustralia) December 16, 2018
And Jakarta’s official response was cautious, as correspondent James Massola reported:
Official response from the Indonesian foreign ministry to the Jerusalem decision. Relatively restrained. But no mention of when the FTA will be signed. And the million dollar question is whether, or to what extent, domestic politics will influence what happens next. @smh @theage pic.twitter.com/Eg1dkJzdiN
— James Massola (@jamesmassola) December 15, 2018