Former Australian PM Calls for Moving Embassy to Jerusalem, Cutting Aid to Palestinians

(Photo: Newspaper cutting, Independenta Australia, file)

Former Australian prime minister Tony Abbott called on his country to cut millions of dollars of annual aid to the Palestinian Authority, accusing Ramallah of funneling the money to “terrorists and their families.” He also called on Canberra to join any move by the incoming Trump administration in the US to relocate the embassy to Jerusalem.

In an article penned by Abbott and published in The Spectator Australia weekly on Monday, the former PM said Canberra should offer “unswerving support for Israel as the region’s only liberal, pluralist democracy,” and “join any move by the Trump administration to move its embassy to Jerusalem.”

During the 2016 election, Trump pledged to end a longstanding White House policy to perpetually defer a 1995 Congressional decision to recognise Jerusalem as the Israeli capital and move the embassy there.

Abbott’s comments come days after Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop and Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull panned the United Nations Security Council resolution that criticized Israeli settlement building as one-sided and biased against Israel.

The resolution last month determined that Israel’s establishment of settlements anywhere outside the pre-1967 lines “has no legal validity and constitutes a flagrant violation under international law.” The resolution did not distinguish between the West Bank and East Jerusalem.

Abbott, who appointed Bishop and was replaced by Turnbull in 2015, was part of an Australian delegation that visited Jerusalem and Ramallah last month, meeting with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah.

Australia gave almost AUD 43 million (NIS 120 million) in aid to the Palestinian Territories in 2015-2016 and has pledged slightly more for the coming year, according to official government figures.

Abbot wrote in the Spectator: “Australia should cut our $40 million a year in aid to the Palestinian Authority while it keeps paying pensions to terrorists and their families.”

Last month, the UN Security Council adopted a resolution demanding Israel to halt settlement building and expansion in the Palestinian territories. The resolution, which was co-sponsored by Malaysia, New Zealand, Senegal and Venezuela, was passed by a 14-0 vote after the United States abstained.

As a response to the resolution, Israel and it’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has pledged to conduct ‘revenge demolitions‘ of Palestinian homes; approved building some 5,600 housing units in East Jerusalem for illegal settlements; cut funding to five UN institutions worth $7.8 million; threatened to directly target UNRWA with Trump’s help; and recalled it’s ambassadors from Senegal and New Zealand.

(MEMO, PC, Social Media)

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