Sep 28, 2022
JERUSALEM WEATHER
Share this article
An Ultra Orthodox man walks by a grafitti drawing of the map of Israel at the Damascus Gate in Jerusalem's Old City, shortly before thousands of Jews filled the area celebrating Jerusalem Day. Jerusalem Day celebrates the 47th anniversary of its capture of Arab East Jerusalem in the Six Day War of 1967. (Photo: Hadas Parush/Flash90)

An Ultra Orthodox man walks by a grafitti drawing of the map of Israel at the Damascus Gate in Jerusalem’s Old City, shortly before thousands of Jews filled the area celebrating Jerusalem Day. Jerusalem Day celebrates the 47th anniversary of its capture of Arab East Jerusalem in the Six Day War of 1967. (Photo: Hadas Parush/Flash90)

The Australian government has dropped the term “occupied” when it comes to referring to East Jerusalem.

Described by some Australian legislators as a “massive shift” in foreign policy, Attorney- General George Brandis, speaking on behalf of Australia’s Foreign Minister, said it was “unhelpful” to the overall peace process to label the area as occupied, Australian press reported.

“The description of East Jerusalem as ‘occupied’ East Jerusalem is a term freighted with pejorative implications which is neither appropriate nor useful,” Brandis told a Senate estimated hearing.

“It should not and will not be the practice of the Australian government to describe areas of negotiation in such judgmental language.”

“Australia supports a peaceful solution to the dispute between Israel and the Palestinian people, which recognizes the right of Israel to exist peacefully within secure borders and also recognizes the aspiration to statehood of the Palestinian people,” Brandis stated.

On Wednesday, Brandis sparked a heated debate in the Australian senate when he said that the Australian government, regardless of political affiliation, “acknowledges or accepts” the use of the word occupied.

LIBI-Father'sDay-600WIDE

Several senators protested Brandis’s comments, saying that Australia had voted in favor of UN resolutions in 2011 and 2012 when the use of the term “occupied” was used to describe Jewish neighborhoods in East Jerusalem.

Independent Senator Nick Xenophon was among those outraged by the new policy. “It’s an extraordinary and reckless departure from the bipartisan approach of the last 47 years,” he said.

“It is contrary to the government’s position it is completely unhelpful to walk away from the term ‘occupied’. If you don’t acknowledge historical facts, what are the hopes for lasting peace in the Middle East?” he asked.

“Even Israel’s strongest ally, the United States, does not hold this position,” Xenophon added.

Australia’s previous foreign minister Bob Carr voiced opposition to the existence of Jewish communities in East Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria. His successor, Julie Bishop, has struck a more balanced approach to the issue and has openly questioned whether such Israeli communities are indeed “illegal under international law.”

Palestinian officials have voiced their outrage at Australia’s new policy, calling the move “absolutely disgraceful and shocking.”

“It is absolutely disgraceful and shocking that on the 47th anniversary of Israel’s military occupation of the West Bank (including East Jerusalem), and Gaza, Australian Attorney-General George Brandis is issuing such inflammatory and irresponsible statements,” PLO Executive Committee member Hana Ashrawi said.

“Such pronouncement are not only in blatant violation of international law and global consensus, but are also lethal in any pursuit of peace and toxic to any attempt at enacting a global rule of law,” she added.