Recognising Jerusalem as Israel’s capital is a welcome, symbolic move

Imagine if no other country was prepared to accept that Canberra is our capital, to keep happy a neighbour with more international support, and a habit of issuing violent threats. Instead, they all site their embassies in Melbourne, and maintain that is the capital.

That, in a nutshell, was Israel’s situation, until Donald Trump officially recognised Jerusalem as the capital, and directed the State Department to begin preparing the lengthy process of moving the US embassy there.

Of course, as with everything involving Israel, it’s a bit more complicated, with parts of Jerusalem disputed. However, there is a basic principle of non-discrimination here. As Trump said, in a notably measured and careful speech: “Israel is a sovereign nation with the right like every other sovereign nation to determine its own capital.”

In reality, it’s not as complicated as those who disagree with Trump’s decision make out. As he said, the announcement does not affect final status issues, such as the ultimate boundaries of Jerusalem. It is in fact tantamount to acknowledging west Jerusalem only as Israel’s capital and certainly does not preclude the possibility that the Palestinians will have their own capital in the east of the city. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has said it will not affect the status of any of the holy sites, including those under Muslim control such as the Temple Mount/Al-Aqsa compound.

Read the opinion piece by Colin Rubenstein in the Sydney Morning Herald.