Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council

AIJAC welcomes government decision to refrain from using word "occupied" in referring to east Jerusalem

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Media Release



AIJAC today welcomed the Australian Government's decision, announced by Attorney-General George Brandis on Wednesday, to refrain from using the pejorative and unhelpful word "occupied" to refer to east Jerusalem. It called on all sincere supporters of a genuine two-state outcome to likewise support using terminology which does not prejudge the outcome of negotiations and thus encourages compromise and serious diplomatic engagement between the parties. 

AIJAC Executive Director Dr. Colin Rubenstein AM, said, "The government's decision to revise the language it uses to refer to East Jerusalem is very welcome precisely because it is helpful toward achieving a two-state resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict - a goal shared by a bipartisan consensus of Australia's political leaders, as well as by AIJAC. The only way to achieve a genuine and lasting two-state resolution is through direct negotiations between the parties. Language which prejudges the key issues in dispute - such as describing the land in question as 'occupied' and thus presumably the property of one side to which the other has no claim - does not contribute to either the renewal of negotiations, or to their success when they do reconvene.

"Moreover", he added, "as a matter of reality, the land in question is best-described as Israeli-administered territory whose legal status is in dispute. It should not be described as 'occupied Palestinian land', despite a frequent tendency to do so in our media, because no sovereign Palestinian state has ever existed, and, in international law, the term 'occupation' refers to the sovereign territory of one state controlled by another. Israel actually has a strong claim to the land in question under the San Remo Convention and League of Nations Mandates on 1920 and 1922 respectively."

"A Palestinian state encompassing most of the West Bank and Gaza should absolutely be the end result of a two-state peace agreement - but prejudging the issues in dispute encourages an ongoing Palestinian refusal to make the compromises essential for such an outcome to come about. This is especially true at a time when the Palestinian Authority appears to be walking away from negotiations, joining together with unreconstructed terrorist group Hamas and focusing its efforts on a futile and destructive attempt to try to gain statehood without a peace agreement via the UN and other international organisations." He concluded: "We therefore call on all those who sincerely want a two-state peace to support the Government's efforts to use accurate, neutral language which encourages negotiations and compromise, rather than language which prejudges vital issues in dispute and thus helps contribute to intransigence and other unhelpful behaviour."

For additional information, contact Dr. Colin Rubenstein on 03-9681-6660 or crubenstein@aijac.org.au.

 

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