Australia's conservative prime minister yesterday stood by his decision to recognise west Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, despite criticism from neighbouring Muslim countries.
Canberra became one of a handful of governments to follow US President Donald Trump's lead and recognise the contested city as Israel's capital, Prime Minister Scott Morrison had announced Saturday.
But a contentious embassy shift from Tel Aviv -- a proposal made during a crucial Sydney by-election that critics said was timed to attract Jewish voters -- will not occur until a peace settlement is achieved.
Australia's neighbour Malaysia yesterday said it "strongly opposes" the decision to recognise west Jerusalem.
"Jerusalem has always been under Palestine, so why are they taking the initiative to divide Jerusalem not belonging to them, but to divide the Arabs and the Jews? They have no rights," PM Mahathir Mohamad said.
Australia's immediate neighbour Indonesia, the world's most populous Muslim nation, was angered by the move.
Both Israel and the Palestinians claim Jerusalem as their capital. Most foreign nations avoided moving embassies there to prevent inflaming peace talks on the city's final status -- until Trump unilaterally moved the US embassy earlier this year.