Scott Morrison
Scott MorrisonReuters

Australia opened a Trade and Defense office on King George Street in downtown Jerusalem on Friday.

The new office follows Australia's decision in December 2018 to recognize Jerusalem's Jewish neighborhoods as the capital of Israel. At the time, Australia's Prime Minister Scott Morrison said that he will open a trade and defense office in Israel.

The Trade and Defense office will work to strengthen Australia's business ties with Israel in defense, education, high-tech and other areas, as well as facilitating business meetings, conferences and visitor programs.

Mark Leibler, the national chairman of the Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council (AIJAC) said, "AIJAC is very pleased to acknowledge that the government has fulfilled their promise to open this office so quickly. Building on the Australian Government’s welcome and principled recognition of the reality that Jerusalem is Israel’s capital and has been since 1949, this office should both give that recognition concrete form and help further develop the already extensive and mutually beneficial trade ties between Israeli and Australia."

"This office shows the government’s genuine commitment to its declared policy on Jerusalem and Israel and it will also provide significant concrete dividends to the Australian economy in the defense, high-tech and cybersecurity sectors, among others," AIJAC Executive Director Dr. Colin Rubenstein AM noted. "We therefore hope and expect that this office will remain open regardless of the outcome of the May 18 federal election."

"We also look forward to the Australian government eventually relocating our Embassy in Israel to Jerusalem, helping to end the discriminatory situation whereby, for the last 70 years, Israel has been the only country in the world not permitted to nominate its own capital on its own sovereign territory," Dr. Rubenstein added.

"In addition to its other valuable functions, the new Australian Trade and Defense Office in Jerusalem is a step toward ending that discriminatory situation. For that, we are very grateful to the Australian Government," he concluded.