Mon, 29 Oct - 10:49
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Review into Middle East Policy

On Tuesday 16 October 2018 the Prime Minister, the Hon. Scott Morrison MP, and the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Senator the Hon. Marise Payne, made a number of important announcements in support of Australia’s interests in the Middle East and our continuing support for a durable and resilient two-state solution to the Israel-Palestine conflict.

These announcements reinforce our commitment to efforts towards resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, further strengthen our valuable relationship with Israel, and will review Australia’s policy in relation to Iran’s nuclear program.

First, Australia has voted no on the UN General Assembly resolution on the Palestinian Authority chairing the G77. This draft resolution seeks to confer an official status on the Palestinian Authority it does not have, and therefore has the potential to undermine efforts to bring parties together to work towards a peaceful settlement.

Second, the Government will carefully examine the arguments put forward by Australia's former Ambassador to Israel, Dave Sharma, that we should consider recognising Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, without prejudice to its final boundaries, while acknowledging East Jerusalem as the expected capital of a future Palestinian state. Specifically, the Government will examine the merits of moving Australia’s embassy to West Jerusalem, in the context of our support for a two-state solution. Any decision will be subject to a rigorous assessment of the potential impact of such a move on our broader national interests.

Third, given Australia’s increased engagement with Israel on defence and security matters, the Government will appoint a resident Australian Defence Attaché in Tel Aviv and has invited Israel to appoint its own resident Defence Attaché in Canberra.

Fourth, the Government will review, without prejudice, Australia's approach to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), to determine whether our current policy settings remain fit for purpose. The review will reassess whether the Plan remains the best vehicle to address the international community’s concerns about Iran’s nuclear ambitions. The Government aims to finalise and announce the findings of this review by December this year.

In making these announcements, the Government underlines its enduring commitment to the Middle East Peace Process, and to a two-state solution that allows Israel and a future Palestinian state to exist side-by-side, in peace and security, within internationally recognised borders.