Statements by Senators: State of Israel, 26 October 2022

Senator BABET (Victoria—United Australia Party Whip) (13:45): When your foreign policy is being praised by terrorists, you might want to rethink it. That’s exactly what the Albanese government should do regarding their snap decision to no longer recognise West Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. The decision, announced by foreign minister, Penny Wong, was praised by Hamas, if you can believe it. When a designated terror organisation says that you’ve taken a ‘step in the right direction’ then it’s a pretty good indication that you’ve in fact gone in exactly the wrong direction.

The way in which this decision was made was shambolic. In fact, the Israeli Prime Minister described it as ‘hasty’. Announcing this decision without any prior consultation with Israel was ill considered at best. Every nation has the right to determine its own capital, and making an exception of Israel is discriminatory. Imagine if another nation came here to Australia and refused to acknowledge Canberra as our nation’s capital? The fact is that West Jerusalem has been recognised by Israel as its official capital for decades. It is the seat of its president, its parliament and its Supreme Court. It is the home of national monuments, including Israel’s Yad Vashem, which is a memorial to the Holocaust. Jerusalem has been the spiritual centre of Judaism for thousands of years, revered in the Old Testament, and a holy city for Christians and Muslims, and Israel protects these sacred sites for all of us.

There was no need for the Albanese government to reverse Australia’s recognition of West Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. Foreign policy cannot be determined on the fly. They have upset a longstanding ally, all the while exciting terrorist groups. Let’s reverse this reversal.