Public Statement from The Arab Australian Community regarding the Australia embassy in Israel
18 October 2018
The Arab Australian community is appalled by the government’s proposed change of position on Jerusalem
At a meeting held in Sydney on Wednesday 17 October 2018, a large number of Arab Australian organisations in NSW and prominent individuals expressed grave concerns over recent comments by the Prime Minister of Australia, Mr Scott Morrison, proposing to relocate the Australian Embassy to Jerusalem.
The Australian Government took a more even-handed approach in June this year against the relocation of the Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem and did not follow in the footsteps of the current US administration in this regard. Incidentally, only the USA and Guatemala have since moved their embassies to Jerusalem.
Representatives of the Australian Arab community applauded the immediate public reassurances by the then Foreign Minister Julie Bishop that the “Australian government would not be moving our embassy to Jerusalem”. We also welcomed the statement by the then Prime Minister, Malcolm Turnbull, that it was ‘more conducive to the peace process to keep the embassy in Tel Aviv.’
We are at a loss to understand the rationale for the sudden change of position on such a sensitive issue. We strongly believe that this will hamper the protracted peace process rather than aid it. It will also have ramifications for Australia’s standing in the international community, particularly in relation to trade, as it goes against international law and adherence to countless United Nations Resolutions.
We are deeply concerned about Australia following the US lead and being on the ‘wrong side of history.’ Earlier this week, Australia was the only country, other than the USA and Israel, to vote against a UN resolution to grant a special status to Palestine. The vote was 146 to 3.
United Nations Security Council (UNSC) resolution 476, adopted on 30 June 1980, binding on all member states, declared that "all legislative and administrative measures and actions taken by Israel, the occupying Power, which purport to alter the character and status of the Holy City of Jerusalem have no legal validity and constitute a flagrant violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention".
UNSC in Resolution 478, passed on 15 November 1980, by 14 votes to none, with only the US abstaining, affirmed Resolution 476 and determined that Israel’s exclusive claims over the Holy City were ‘null and void’ and a ‘serious obstruction to achieving a comprehensive, just and lasting peace in the Middle East’. The Resolution called on ‘those States that have established diplomatic missions in Jerusalem to withdraw such missions from the Holy City’. This UN Resolution still stands, and any embassy relocation is a brazen breach.
In March 2017, a Roy Morgan poll on Palestine showed 73% of the Australian population wants Australia to recognise the State of Palestine. It is incumbent upon our government to reflect the will of the Australian people in its policy.
We call on the Prime Minister to retract his recent comments and publicly affirm that Australia will not relocate its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.