The Australian Prime Minister, Scott Morrison, recently announced that Australia would recognize “West Jerusalem” as Israel’s capital with the understanding that “East Jerusalem” would eventually be the Palestinian capital under a two-state solution.
Morrison Ignored the fact that so-called "Palestinian claims" to “East Jerusalem” are at best spurious, since Jerusalem was never a “Palestinian” capital, and when given the chance to establish “East Jerusalem” as its capital between 1948-1967, the “Palestinians” never did so.
Some observers maintain that Canberra’s announcement is “a step in the right direction.”
There may be doubt as to whether this really would be “a step in the right direction,” given the possibility of the right direction being the road to hell, as often happened in the past.
In 1983, South Africa’s apartheid government established a new tricameral parliamentary system that would incorporate mixed race “Coloured” and Indian South Africans together with Whites into a separated legislature. Black South Africans were not included in this arrangement. In reality this arrangement was a farce designed to “reform” apartheid or “separate development.” Many saw this as “a step in the right direction.” Of course apartheid could not be “reformed”—only abolished, no matter how it was dressed up. It remained just that: apartheid.
While there is no connection between apartheid South Africa and Israel, whose Arab citizens enjoy full human rights, the notion of “a step in the right direction,” can be ill-conceived.
At the time, most opponents of apartheid maintained that the tricameral parliament was “a step in the right direction.” From zero representation to limited representation in a separate parliament seemed a good idea. It was better than nothing. thought many well-meaning people. Over 66% of white South Africans therefore voted for this in the referendum. In fact, it brought about more violence and hastened the end of apartheid.
What people failed to see was that the tricameral system further alienated Black South Africans. Further, hopes and expectations ran higher than what the reality could absorb. A lesson from history that some revolutions occurred when conditions and peoples’ lives actually improved (such as in France and Russia) was lost on those with a linear view of the world. Well-meaning decisions could in fact boomerang.
Australia’s recognition of “West Jerusalem,” may therefore not be “a step in the right direction” as it entrenches the idea of divided cities that never worked in the past such as with Berlin or Belfast. In addition, it inappropriately imposes a solution rather than leaving the parties to decide the outcome themselves.
By linking recognition of Israel’s capital to a “Palestinian” capital in the same city, Australia unwittingly endorsed a situation that could exacerbate violence. Surely PM Morrison would know that when “East Jerusalem” was under Arab control for 19 years, there was no freedom of worship for Jews, regardless of whether they were Swedes, Swiss or South Africans, let alone Israelis.
He would also surely know that the PA Chairman, Abbas stated that Jews “with their filthy feet” would not be allowed to worship on the Temple Mount. The PA and their supporters in the international community regularly deny any historical Jewish connection to Jerusalem which Australia to its credit, consistently votes against. Mr Morrison also knows the PA pays “martyrs” to kill Jews regardless of living in “East Jerusalem, West Jerusalem” or Tel Aviv.
By advocating a “West and East Jerusalem” (whatever that means) as future capitals of Israel and Palestine, Mr Morrison overstepped his role and prejudged an issue that should have been left to the Israelis and Palestinians to negotiate. On the other hand, his statements criticising the UN mistreatment of Israel are courageous, maintaining that foreign policy should be based on moral clarity—a message that should be especially heeded by the EU countries. However in this instance Morrison would have better followed the American example that simply recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, while stipulating that recognition did not negate an eventual negotiated final outcome.
It is puzzling therefore to understand what “a step in the right direction” actually means for Australia and whether prejudging a final settlement’s negotiated possible outcome is wise. History has often shown that good intentions sometimes result in unintended consequences.
Ron Jontof-Hutter is the author of the satire ”The trombone man: tales of a misogynist.”