Australia has announced a plan to recognize west Jerusalem as Israel's capital.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced Saturday that Australia would recognize east Jerusalem as Palestine's capital only if there is a peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinians. If such an agreement is reached, the Australian Embassy could be moved from Tel Aviv.
"The Australian government has decided that Australia now recognizes west Jerusalem, as the seat of the Knesset and many of the institutions of government, is the capital of Israel," Morrison said in an Associated Press report.
Meanwhile, Australia plans to establish a defense and trade office in Jerusalem and is beginning a search for an appropriate embassy site.
In light of the developments, Australians were warned to use caution if traveling to Indonesia, which has a Muslim majority, The Times of Israel reported.
Australia is now the third country to recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital. The U.S. and Guatemala were the first. But unlike those countries, Australia has recognized only the western part of the city. As a result neither side of the issue is likely to be entirely pleased, the Associated Press noted.
Both Israel and Palestine claim Jerusalem as their capital. During the 1967 Six Day War, Israel captured Arab East Jerusalem and later annexed it, but the move was never recognized by the international community. Israel views the entire city as its capital.
"For decades, the international community maintained that the city's status should be negotiated between Israel and the Palestinians," the news outlet noted. "Critics say declaring Jerusalem the capital of either inflames tensions and prejudges the outcome of final status peace talks."
Australia intelligence has warned that any formal recognition could incite more violence and unrest in Israel. Others have accused the prime minister of attempting to win Jewish votes in an upcoming election.
Have any threats been made?
Senior Palestinian official Saeb Erekat has asked Arab and Muslim countries to sever all diplomatic ties with Australia if it changes its policy on Jerusalem. Erekat stated earlier this week that "various Arab and Muslim summits" have prepared resolutions to end diplomatic ties with any country that declares Jerusalem belongs to Israel.
Many Australians are expected to travel to Bali and other tropical islands during upcoming summer holidays. That prompted a warning from the nation's Department of Foreign Affairs that travelers should use extreme caution.