Australia’s decision to abstain from a controversial United Nations vote on a US move to recognise Jerusalem as the capital of Israel was “disappointing”, the Palestinian Authority’s representative in Canberra said.
But the Israeli embassy has welcomed the move, saying the Jewish state “appreciated” the gesture.
SBS News contacted both embassies in the wake of the vote, in which an overwhelming 120 countries opted to urge the United States to reverse Donald Trump’s decision.
Only nine countries voted against the resolution, including Israel and the US. Most of the other seven countries were small island nations, including Nauru.
A further 35 counties abstained, including Australia and Canada.
The United Kingdom was of the majority of countries that voted Yes, despite threats from the United States that it would take the result “personally”.
The Palestinian Authority’s ambassador to Australia, Izzat Abdulhadi, said the result was disappointing, especially given that Australia’s foreign minister Julie Bishop had said on Thursday the UN motion did not “conflict” with Australia’s position of supporting a two-state solution.
“It was disappointing, a little bit. Because… Ms Bishop said just three or four days ago the position of Mr Trump to recognise Jerusalem as the capital of Israel will increase tension,” Mr Abdulhadi told SBS News.
Mr Abdulhadi said the decision to abstain was “very obviously” driven by a desire to appease Australia’s ally, the United States.
In a statement, Ms Bishop told SBS News the decision to abstain was consistent with Australia’s position.
“Australia’s voting position… concerning Jerusalem reflected our assessment that it did not materially advance the peace process,” the statement read.
“We do not wish to see any party isolated from the process through this resolution, so we abstained on this occasion.”
But Israel’s ambassador to Australia, Mark Sofer, said the decision to abstain was welcome.
“There are enormous amounts of constraints and pulls and pushes, and we appreciate the Australian vote,” Mr Sofer said.
“Australia didn’t find itself drawn into yet another Israel-bashing resolution.”