Australia announced this week that it would recognize West Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, but will not yet move the embassy from Tel Aviv.
“Jerusalem should remain as it is now and not the capital of Israel,” Mahathir said on the sidelines of an event in Bangkok. “Jerusalem has always been under Palestine, so why are they taking the initiative to divide Jerusalem […] They have no rights.”
Israel’s foreign ministry on Sunday praised Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s decision, calling it “a step in right direction.” However, Tzachi Hanegbi, Israel’s minister for regional cooperation, remained critical, saying that 'there is no division between the east of the city and west of the city.'
“All of Jerusalem remains a final-status issue for negotiations, while East Jerusalem, under international law, is an integral part of the occupied Palestinian territory,” he said.
In May, the United States relocated its embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, prompting outrage across the Muslim world. Brazil, the Czech Republic, Guatemala and Honduras have also recognized Jerusalem as the Israeli capital. The United Nations has urged member states to refrain from moving diplomatic missions to Jerusalem until the city’s legal status is settled.