Media Release: Response to statement by Attorney-General George Brandis

The Australian Jewish Democratic Society strongly opposes the statement made by Attorney-General George Brandis (6
June 2014) that: “the description of East Jerusalem as ‘Occupied East Jerusalem’ is a term freighted [sic] with
pejorative implications, which is neither appropriate nor useful.”
The status of East Jerusalem as Occupied Territory is not pejorative, but a simple fact agreed upon internationally by
almost every country in the world. UN resolution 2253 (4 July 1967) rejected the unilateral annexation of East
Jerusalem, consistent with UN resolutions and international legal opinion that the annexation is illegal. This is a view
also held by many Israelis. Australia supported this viewpoint until now.
This statement follows that of Foreign Minister Julie Bishop’s in January that she would like to see which settlements
are illegal. It also follows the May visit of the Australian Ambassador to Israel, Dave Sharma, with the Israeli Housing
and Construction Minister, Uri Ariel. The meeting took place in the East Jerusalem neighbourhood of Sheikh Jarrah, a
flashpoint for confrontations between Palestinian residents and aggressive settlers.
Brandis and Bishop’s statements, as well as the chosen meeting place of an Australian diplomat, have serious implications for Australia’s support of an equitable peace process. While the Australian Government professes commitment to a two-state solution, it is providing tacit approval for the continued occupation of land that is expected to be the capital of a future Palestinian state.
Furthermore, by suggesting that the status of the Occupation is contested or disputed, or that such issues are subject to
“final status negotiations”, the Abbott government gives tacit support and encouragement to the continuation of the
status quo, that is, the completely unequal state of affairs in the Occupied Territories. The Abbott government thus turns
a blind eye to criminal behaviour towards Palestinians. This includes house demolitions and appropriation by Israeli
settlers, discriminatory polices on planning and construction, restrictions on money exchange, and administrative
detention without trial.
These practices are a fact of life not just in the West Bank, but in the eastern, Palestinian portion of the supposedly
united Jerusalem. Australia’s fictional perception that there is no occupation of Palestinians, demonstrates that the
Abbott government is sympathetic to a very hardline and separatist agenda.
Consequently, Australia appears to have abandoned any semblance of balance in acting as a supporter of a fair
resolution of this conflict, one which protects the rights of Palestinian residents to their life and liberty, as well as the
rights of Israelis to enjoy a future without being the world’s longest occupying power.

One Reply to “Media Release: Response to statement by Attorney-General George Brandis”

  1. Thanks to the AJDS for its principled stand on East Jerusalem.
    Australia’s Jewish community finally has a voice of reason.

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