Former Australian ambassador to Israel Dave Sharma has called on the Turnbull government to consider recognising Jerusalem as the capital of Israel even if it does not move the embassy from Tel Aviv.
After the single deadliest day in the Gaza Strip since 2014, with the death toll rising to 58, international debate ramped up over whether Donald Trump’s historic decision to move the US embassy in Israel to Jerusalem had stymied the peace process.
Washington’s allies in Europe and the Middle East yesterday criticised the US over the embassy relocation and called on Israel to restrain its forces after the bloodshed. The strongest criticism came from Britain and France, who both condemned the violence. “There has got to be restraint in the use of live rounds,” British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson said.
The Trump administration defended the embassy move and refused to criticise Israel’s use of force, instead blaming Palestinian group Hamas for the deadly confrontations.
All countries with diplomatic representation in Israel were invited to the gala event, according to Israel’s foreign ministry.
Israel's foreign ministry says all 86 countries with diplomatic missions in
While 32 countries including Vietnam, the Philippines, Thailand, Myanmar, South Sudan, Albania and Ukraine said they would attend, countries including Five Eyes intelligence sharing powers the United Kingdom, Canada and New Zealand, along with Germany, France and Spain did not send their ambassadors to the event. European countries to attend included Austria, Hungary, the Czech Republic and Romania.
The list of countries invited but which declined were: Argentina, Australia, Belarus, Belgium, Belize, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Brazil, Britain, Bulgaria, Canada, Chile, China, Colombia, Costa Rica, Croatia, Cyprus, Denmark, Ecuador, Egypt, Eritrea, Finland, France, Germany, Ghana, Greece, India, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Jordan, Kazakhstan, South Korea, Latvia, Liberia, Lithuania, Mexico, Moldova, Myanmar, Netherlands, Norway, Paraguay, Poland, Portugal, Russia, Slovakia, Slovenia, South Africa, Spain, Sri Lanka, Sweden.
Malcolm Turnbull reiterated his government’s opposition to shifting the Australian embassy to Jerusalem, diverging from the strategic move of our American ally. “We have taken the view — as indeed, most countries have — that it’s more conducive to the peace process to keep the embassy in Tel Aviv,’’ the Prime Minister said. “Obviously, the status of Jerusalem and negotiations relating to Jerusalem are a key part of the peace negotiations, which we wish the very best for and which we support.’’
Former prime minister Tony Abbott repeated his call for the embassy to be moved. “The US embassy is now in West Jerusalem, which has been Israel’s capital for nearly 70 years. Australia should consider following Trump’s move,” he tweeted.
Liberal backbencher and chairman of the parliamentary joint committee on intelligence and security Andrew Hastie backed calls last night for the Turnbull government to follow the US lead and move its embassy to Jerusalem.
Mr Sharma, who was ambassador in Israel from 2013 to 2017, said even if Australia retained its embassy in Tel Aviv, Canberra should consider recognising Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. “Where else do we disagree with a country about where its capital is?” he tweeted. He also said the protests in Gaza are “largely unconnected — strange as it may sound” to the US embassy opening. “They were planned a long time ago, planned to coincide to the 70th anniversary of the founding of Israel,’’ he said. “I think oddly enough it has the potential to advance the peace process. Where President Trump has put the American embassy is in a part of Jerusalem, West Jerusalem, that Israel has controlled since 1948.”
The UN said last night it appeared any protester in Gaza was liable to be killed by Israeli forces, as Palestinians observed a strike to mourn the 58 dead — including eight-month-old Leila al-Ghandour — following Monday’s clashes and the more than 2700 wounded.
Kuwait requested an emergency meeting of the UN Security Council, which the US blocked, while Turkey and South Africa recalled their ambassadors to Israel, and Turkey’s envoy to the US was recalled “for consultations’’. French President Emmanuel Macron spoke to Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas and issued a statement to condemn “the violence of the Israeli armed forces against protesters”. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu defended the role of his security forces, saying “every country has the obligation to defend its borders”.