When Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced that Australia would be moving its embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, it seemed like a bold step. He was, after all, ignoring threats from two important trading partners, Malaysia and Indonesia, of possible economic consequences should he transfer the embassy. Upon inspection, however, the Australian announcement turns out to have been considerably less than one had reason to hope.
In the first place, the move, Morrison made clear, would be from Tel Aviv to “West Jerusalem.” Jerusalem has been the undivided capital of Israel since 1967 when, in a war of self-defense, Israel took East Jerusalem (and the Old City) from the Jordanians. Israel quickly tore down all barriers between the two parts of the city, seamlessly reuniting them, as any visitor to the city soon realizes. Morrison seems to support the re-dividing of the city into two parts, East and West Jerusalem, which in the several thousand years of Jerusalem’s existence, had happened only once, during Jordanian rule of what it called “East Jerusalem” from 1949 to 1967. In 1967, the Israeli victory allowed West and East Jerusalem to reunite into one undivided city, which it has been now for more than 50 years. The Israelis have vowed to keep it undivided forever. Morrison could have emulated the Trump Administration, when it announced its Embassy move to “Jerusalem” — even though the actual embassy buildings are all located in West Jerusalem.