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Diplomacy

Australia rules out moving its Israel embassy to Jerusalem in line with US and Donald Trump

Foreign minister said she had recently written to her Palestinian counterpart to ensure Australian aid, about US$43 million in the next financial year, was being spent on health, education and governance

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 16 June, 2018, 2:40pm
UPDATED : Saturday, 16 June, 2018, 2:40pm

Australia will not be following Donald Trump’s lead and moving its embassy to Jerusalem, Julie Bishop has said, despite strong support from the party’s base.

The Liberal Party’s youth arm had called on the government to relocate its embassy from Tel Aviv to Israel’s legislative capital, and to suspend all aid to Palestine “until it terminates its ‘Martyr’s fund”.

The motion, which is non-binding, was carried in a vote 43 to 31, but the foreign minister said there was no chance the government would adopt it as policy. There are 110 council delegates who have voting rights at the national council.

“While I understand the sentiment behind this resolution, the Australian government will not be moving our embassy to Jerusalem,” Bishop said.

“Jerusalem is a final status issue and we have maintained that position for decades and we are doing all we can do to ensure that any support we give to the Palestinian Authority is only used for purposes that we determine.”

Bishop said she had recently written to her Palestinian counterpart to ensure Australian aid, about US$43 million in the next financial year, was being spent on health, education and governance.

“Our funding to the Palestinian Authority is subject to a memorandum of understanding, defining precisely how it is used and subject to very close audit to ensure that no funds are diverted to the so-called Martyr’s fund,” she said.

But Australia did side with the United States to vote against a UN human rights council motion for an independent investigation into last month’s “March of Return” protest deaths.

In explaining why Australia was the only other nation, other than America, to vote against sending in investigators, Australian officials said they were concerned the investigation “was not independent or impartial.