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Islamic and Arab countries fiddle while Syria burns

By David Singer - posted Wednesday, 25 June 2014


Australia's decision on 5 June to no longer refer to East Jerusalem and the West Bank as "occupied territory" but rather "disputed territory" has provoked outrage among Islamic and Arab countries accredited in Australia.

They sought and received an urgent meeting with Australia's Foreign Minister Julie Bishop on 19 June – following a letter sent to Ms Bishop on 12 June by Moroccan Ambassador HE Mohamed Mael-Ainin on behalf of the Heads of Mission of this powerful Islamic lobby.

The Ambassador's letter has not been released by the Foreign Affairs Department as it "does not publicly release correspondence to the Foreign Minister from representatives of foreign countries."

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Yet - in a media release issued after the meeting - MsBishop attached her written response to the Moroccan Ambassador – in which she stated:

I emphasise that there has been no change in the Australian Government's position on the legal status of the Palestinian Territories, including East Jerusalem. Our position is consistent with relevant UN resolutions on the issue, adopted over many years, starting with UN Security Council Resolutions 242 and 338. Senator Brandis' statement was about nomenclature, and was not a comment on the legal status of the Palestinian Territories.

Australia continues to be a strong supporter of a just and lasting two-state solution, with Israel and a Palestinian state existing side by side in peace and security, within internationally recognised borders. To this end, we are urging both sides to resume direct negotiations. We do not consider it helpful to engage in debates over legal issues, nor to prejudge any final status issues that are the subject of these negotiations.

Creating a second Arab State in Mandatory Palestine - in addition to Jordan - for the first time ever in recorded history - remains an illusion after fruitless negotiations spanning the last 20 years.

Legal issues will determine final status issues - one essential legal prerequisite being secure and recognized borders for Israel demanded by Resolutions 242 and 338

The Palestine Liberation Organisation's acceptance of the League of Nations and United Nations decisions recognising the right of the Jewish people to reconstitute the Jewish National Home in Mandatory Palestine remains another legal lynch pin to achieving Australia's desired two-state solution.

Refusal to recognise the State of Israel by all 57 member states of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) has materially contributed to the 130 years old Jewish-Arab conflict remaining unresolved.

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Jordan's Ambassador Rima Ahmad Alaadeen after meeting Ms Bishop reportedly made the OIC's potential hostility towards Australia very clear:

Alaadeen said she could not say whether there would be trade sanctions against Australia. The controversy was on the agenda of the 57-state Organization of Islamic Cooperation summit of foreign ministers in Jeddah this week.

"There is a clause or a paragraph … on the recent events in Australian policy regarding East Jerusalem, so we have to wait and see what transpires," she said.

Iraq's Ambassador to Australia, Mouayed Saleh, who also attended the meeting, similarly said he could not rule out trade sanctions.

In pursuing this diplomatic dressing down of Australia including threats of sanctions for having the temerity to pursue its own independent foreign policy - these Islamic and Arab States missed a golden opportunity to raise with Ms Bishop a shocking report released on 16 June by the Human Rights Council received from its "Independent International Commission of Inquiry on the Syrian Arab Republic" - a fellow Arab and Islamic State.

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About the Author

David Singer is an Australian Lawyer, a Foundation Member of the International Analyst Network and Convenor of Jordan is Palestine International - an organisation calling for sovereignty of the West Bank and Gaza to be allocated between Israel and Jordan as the two successor States to the Mandate for Palestine. Previous articles written by him can be found at www.jordanispalestine.blogspot.com.

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Creative Commons LicenseThis work is licensed under a Creative Commons License.

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