Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid on Tuesday described as a “wretched move” the Australian government’s decision to walk back the country’s recognition of western Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, according to Hebrew-language media reports.
Lapid reportedly made the comment during a meeting with the Australian ambassador to Israel, who had been summoned to the Foreign Ministry for a diplomatic dressing-down.
The summons was in response to the Labor Party-led Australian government’s decision earlier Tuesday to officially revoke the recognition of Jerusalem by former Liberal Party prime minister Scott Morrison.
The Australian Cabinet instead agreed that Jerusalem’s eventual status must be resolved via peace negotiations with the Palestinians that lead to a two-state solution.
“We will not support an approach that undermines this prospect,” Australian Foreign Minister Penny Wong was quoted by the Associated Press as saying on Tuesday.
An Israeli official told online news site Walla! that Lapid had been caught off guard by the Australian move, which followed a Guardian report on Monday that the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade had dropped from its website two lines of text about the country’s recognition of western Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.
While Canberra initially denied there had been a change in policy, it quickly reversed course.