Quarterly Updates for (16 Aug 2018 — 31 Dec 2018)

                Following the Trump administration’s decision to move the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem and recognize the city as Israel’s capital, the Australian prime minister Scott Morrison suggested the possibility of following suit. In October he said (10/14) he was “open-minded” regarding moving the Australian embassy and recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. A day later Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu tweeted that he had talked to Morrison and said that Australia was considering such a move. The day after Prime Minister Netanyahu’s tweet, Palestinian foreign minister Riyad al-Maliki said at a joint press conference with Indonesia’s foreign minister that Australia was “risking trade and business relations” with the rest of the world if their considerations became actual policy. His statement was an obvious reference to the free trade agreement that Australia was negotiating with Indonesia. Then in December, the Australian government-owned news outlet SBS reported (12/11) that Morrison’s administration would formally recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, but not move the country’s embassy, instead building a consular office in Jerusalem. The reporting also said that the announcement would be made official the following day, however, it was not until 15 December that the recognition was announced and it seemed that Australia had conceded to some of the pressure from particularly Malaysia and Indonesia as Morrison’s statement made it clear that it was a recognition of West Jerusalem. Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs issued a statement calling the move a “step in the right direction,” however, Tzachi Hanegbi the minister for regional cooperation and a member of Prime Minister Netanyahu’s Likud party said that Israel “hope Australia will soon find the way fix the mistake it made” talking about the specification of West Jerusalem in the recognition. The Australian Labor Party, the largest opposition party, subsequently criticized Morrison’s announcement and passed a resolution saying that the next Labor government would recognize Palestine as a state. Palestine Liberation Organization secretary-general Saeb Erakat called Australia’s decision “petty domestic politics” and both the Organization of Islamic Cooperation and the Arab League sharply criticized the move citing United Nations resolutions. Prime Minister Morrison is an evangelical Christian like U.S. vice president Mike Pence and much of U.S. president Donald Trump’s voter base. The Brazilian president-elect Jair Bolsonaro also stated that he would move the Brazilian embassy to Jerusalem (see Brazil). Paraguay announced that it was reversing its decision and moving its embassy back to Tel Aviv (see Paraguay).