AJDS Letter to Julie Bishop Australian Foreign Minister 17 Jan 2014

The attached letter, has been sent to Julie Bishop as the result of media statements concerning Australia’s stance over the Occupation and related matters.
17 January 2014
Dear Ms Bishop,
The Australian Jewish Democratic Society views with considerable concern the change in Australia’s stance regarding the Occupied Territories and the status of illegal settlements there as reported in the interview with you in The Times of Israel 10 January 2014.
The AJDS continues to support UN resolutions and interpretations of international law, particularly the Fourth Geneva Convention. Article 49, paragraph 6, states that an occupying power “shall not deport or transfer parts of its own civilian population into the territory it occupies.”
The policies of Occupation enacted by Israel have caused the deaths of thousands of Palestinians, expulsion of hundreds of thousands more, and the imposition of a brutal control regime, resulting in ongoing limits on freedom of movement, as well as the theft of land, water, and other resources. It continues to feed Palestinian acts of revenge.  For Australia to refrain from any criticism in the UN, or to cast doubt on the agreement in the international community that the occupation is illegal, and cruel, is a highly irresponsible and damaging act by this country.
In addition, for you to be pictured in a photo opportunity with Minister Lieberman is also highly negligent given Lieberman’s blatantly racist agenda, which supports the expulsion of Palestinians.  Lieberman is no friend of democracy for Jewish Israelis either and is viewed with great suspicion by many Jews, particularly in the US and Israel. Your action also gives a green light to extremist elements in Israel and their supporters in the Australian Jewish community.
Likewise, wreath-laying at Ariel Sharon’s grave appears to be the endorsement of politics and methods that were completely rejected by 400,000 Israelis during protests against the Lebanon War—Sharon’s war, which also resulted in the devastating Sabra and Shatila massacres. Sharon also led the incitement which resulted in the killing of Yitzhak Rabin. Your activity does not represent “balance” in foreign policy, but a blatant support of rejectionist politics.
It gives the message instead that you do not support the current round of activity being undertaken by the Obama administration, which the Administration itself has said may be the final opportunity to achieve a two-state solution.
The Australian Jewish Democratic Society has been established for over 30 years, and represents an important voice in the Jewish community. It has taken positions in the past such as the need for the recognition of the PLO and the need for direct negotiations. These views were strongly opposed by other organisations in the Jewish community, yet they came to be Israeli government policy. Thus while often critical of Israeli politics, we have regarded our advocacy over the decades as working in the interests of a peaceful life peace for Israelis and Palestinians and indeed, our views are reflective of substantial sections of Israeli society.
It is time for Australia to speak plainly to Israel about the urgent need to end the settlements, eliminate settler violence and set in place an internationally-supported process that results in withdrawal from the territories and a final resolution of the conflict.
Yours sincerely,
Dr Larry Stillman   Dr Jordy Silverstein
For the Executive
Australian Jewish Democratic Society”
PDF of letter