Board defends tweet supporting Australia’s recognition of West Jerusalem
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Board defends tweet supporting Australia’s recognition of West Jerusalem

Communal body rejects claims it ignored the 'political consequences' of its backing of Canberra's stance

Joe Millis is a journalist

The Board of Deputies has rejected claims that it ignored the “political consequences” of supporting Australia’s decision to recognise West Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

In an erroneous tweet on Sunday, the Board claimed that Australia had recognised Jerusalem – without qualifying the West or East of the city – saying: “Great to see recognition of the simple truth of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital gaining pace. Thank you Australia!”

Board sources told the Jewish News that the initial tweet was not approved by the honorary officers, some of whom were “angry” at its contents and timing.

The tweet followed Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s statement on Sunday that Canberra “looks forward to moving our embassy to West Jerusalem when practical, in support of, and after the final status determination.”

The Board’s tweet was attacked by Yachad director Hannah Weisfeld, who said she was “surprised” the Board was showing “such little thought about the political consequences… Suggesting this is about a ‘simple truth’ is the most simplistic statement you could possibly make about Jerusalem”.

Leading human rights lawyer Adam Wagner noted that the Board’s social media output was “all over the place on Israel-Palestine and has been for a while… Some of the stuff they tweet [and I don’t know who runs the account] is pretty dodgy. They should be much more cautious and measured.”

However, a Board spokesperson said: “While the details of the final status issues, such as eventual borders, are matters for Israeli and Palestinian negotiators, Jerusalem is the capital of Israel and this should be recognised.

“Jerusalem has been the spiritual centre of Jewish life for 3,000 years. Our position, which is consistent with that taken by our counterparts in the Australian Jewish community, international Jewish leaders and the Israeli Foreign Ministry, is to welcome the Australian Government’s direction of travel.”

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