In a speech, Scott Morrison Australia current serving prime minister has been indicating that Australia will recognise West Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and eventually move the embassy there.

For many Australians, this is of little interest but it is somewhat controversial amongst Australia's neighbours.

What is motivating this? Are there international pressures or is it more to do with Scott Morrison's personal beliefs? or something else I've not thought of

“The Australian government has decided that Australia now recognises West Jerusalem – as the seat of the Knesset [Israel’s parliament] and many of the institutions of government – is the capital of Israel. And we look forward to moving our embassy to West Jerusalem when practical, in support of, and after, final-status determination.”

Source article

  • Your question is fully answered by the article you cite unless you’re looking for cabinet documents (wait 25 years) or the inside of the prime ministers head (no chance.) I’m voting to close as you’re looking for unanswerable speculative debate. Dec 15, 2018 at 4:08
  • “Are there international pressures or is it more to do with Scott Morrison's personal beliefs?” - does it have to be only one of those two options?
    – Golden Cuy
    Dec 16, 2018 at 8:49
  • Perhaps it would be better to ask why countries would not recognize the capital of a country as being where the country says it is. E.g. Germany moved its capital from Bonn to Berlin when the east and west reunified, and nobody seems to have thought much about it.
    – jamesqf
    Dec 16, 2018 at 18:20
  • @jamesqf that could be an additional question. Dec 16, 2018 at 23:23
  • @SamuelRussell Interesting point about 25 years for the cabinet documents. If it takes 25 years to get a good answer with additional information so be it. Saying that if somebody answers the questions in 25 years time would it need to be moved to History SE Dec 16, 2018 at 23:24

1 Answer 1


There have been speculations that it started out as a pitch to Jewish voters during the by-election in Wentworth. As the Australian government only held 75 / 149 seats before the by-election, the seat was crucial in maintaining a majority government for The Coalition. It's worth noting that Wentworth has a substantial Jewish population. (The by-election was triggered after former PM Turnbull resigned his seat. The government later lost the seat, and is now a minority government.)

Critics called it a cynical attempt to win votes in a by-election in October for a Sydney seat with a high Jewish population.

Source: https://www.theaustralian.com.au/news/nation/morrison-recognises-west-jerusalem-as-capital-of-israel-wont-move-embassy/news-story/c42acfad40591e07554c2887637cf52d

During the campaign, Prime Minister Scott Morrison mooted the idea of moving the Australian embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, describing his idea as a ‘sensible’ proposal since the current two-state solution hasn't been working well.

“We’re committed to a two-state solution, but frankly, it hasn’t been going that well,” he said. “Not a lot of progress has been made. And you don’t keep doing the same thing and expect different results.”

He claimed that the former ambassador to Israel, Dave Sharma who is also the Liberal Party's candidate in the by-election, had suggested to him that proposal:

“When sensible suggestions are put forward that are consistent with your policy positioning and in this case pursuing a two-state solution, Australia should be open-minded to this and I am open-minded to this and our government is open-minded to this,” Mr Morrison told reporters.

Source: https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/middle-east/australia-israel-embassy-jerusalem-capital-scott-morrison-donald-trump-us-a8585761.html

However, Morrison has denied that it was a political move. As such, he recognised West Jerusalem as Israel's capital, possibly to follow through on his pre-Wentworth by-election proposal, but backing down from a more drastic move of the Australian embassy.

It is further worth noting that he would recognise West Jerusalem as Israel's capital while also acknowledging Palestinian claims to East Jerusalem. This preserves the United Nations' objective of a two-state solution.

While Mr Morrison announced on October 16 that the Australian embassy might be moved to Jerusalem, his new statement makes it clear this would only happen with a lasting settlement between Israel and the Palestinians.

The Prime Minister’s statement, to be made to the Sydney Institute on Saturday, is understood to acknowledge the Palestinian claims to East Jerusalem and raise the prospect of formal recognition in the future.

[ ... ]

“If we were to move the embassy from Tel Aviv to West Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, and when there is a Palestinian state … we would then open an embassy in East Jerusalem as the capital of a Palestinian state,” Mr Pyne said on Sky News.

Read more at https://www.smh.com.au/politics/federal/morrison-to-end-months-of-painful-embassy-debate-by-splitting-jerusalem-in-two-20181214-p50me6.html.

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