Bahrain FM defends Australia's decision on Jerusalem

Khalid bin Ahmed al-Khalifa says Australia's Jerusalem decision does not affect legitimate Palestinian demands.

    Bahrain's Foreign Minister Khalid bin Ahmed al-Khalifa has repeatedly show his support towards Israel [File:Faisal Al Nasser/Reuters]
    Bahrain's Foreign Minister Khalid bin Ahmed al-Khalifa has repeatedly show his support towards Israel [File:Faisal Al Nasser/Reuters]

    Bahrain's Foreign Minister Khalid bin Ahmed al-Khalifa has defended Australia's decision to recognise West Jerusalem as Israel's capital, saying the move would not affect the establishment of a future Palestinian state with East Jerusalem as its capital.

    Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison on Saturday recognised West Jerusalem as Israel's capital, becoming one the few governments around the world to follow US President Donald Trump's lead. 

    "Australia now recognises West Jerusalem - being the seat of the Knesset and many of the institutions of government - is the capital of Israel," Morrison said in a speech in Sydney.

    The Arab League issued a statement criticising the Australian decision as "blatantly biased towards the positions and policies of the Israeli occupation", but Bahrain's FM disagreed.

    "Australia's stance does not impact the legitimate Palestinian demands, first among them being East Jerusalem as the capital of Palestine, and it does not contradict the Arab Peace Initiative," he tweeted on Saturday.

    Bahrain's foreign minister has issued a number of statements supportive of Israel recently.

    Earlier this month, after Israel launched a military operation to destroy cross-border tunnels built by Hezbollah from Lebanon into Israel, the foreign minister issued a statement calling the tunnels a "flagrant threat," to Lebanon's stability.

    He has previously also said Israel has the right to defend itself against Iran, which Bahrain blames for stoking unrest within its borders.

    The status of Jerusalem, home to sites holy to the Muslim, Jewish and Christian faiths, is one of the biggest obstacles to a peace agreement between Israel and Palestinians, who want East Jerusalem recognised as the capital of a Palestinian state.

    Israel regards all of Jerusalem as its capital, including the eastern sector that it annexed in a move not recognised internationally, after the 1967 war.

    The United Nations says the status of Jerusalem must be resolved through negotiations.

    Israel and the Gulf 

    Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has for years boasted about warming ties with key Arab states that have no diplomatic relations with Israel. But those ties were rarely visible.

    This changed in October, when Netanyahu made an unannounced visit to Oman, where he met longtime ruler Sultan Qaboos bin Said.

    It marked the first visit by an Israeli leader in more than 20 years to the tiny Gulf state, a US ally that has in the past facilitated negotiations between the United States and Iran.

    "These were important talks, both for the state of Israel and very important talks for Israel's security," Netanyahu told his cabinet. "There will be more."

    In the same month, Miri Regev, the Israeli Minister of Culture and Sport of Israel, travelled to the United Arab Emirates with an Israeli delegation at a judo tournament, and Netanyahu's communications minister headed to the UAE for a security conference.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and news agencies