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Palestine: Australia rejects fiction to recognise reality

By David Singer - posted Tuesday, 10 June 2014

Australia will no longer be referring to East Jerusalem and the West Bank (Judea and Samaria) as "occupied territories".

Attorney-General George Brandis made this clear when he read a statement to the senate foreign affairs committee this week indicating the language of "occupation" was:

'judgmental', 'freighted with pejorative implications' and 'neither appropriate nor useful' for the peace process.


This injection of sanity into the contribution being made by the international community to help resolve the 130 years old Arab-Jewish conflict is long overdue and very welcome.

The use of the terms "occupied territories" by the European Union or "Occupied Palestinian Territories" by the United Nations has emboldened the Arab League, the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO) and the Palestinian Authority (PA) to maintain their 47 year old demand that every square metre of land captured by Israel from Jordan in the 1967 Six Day War be returned to Arab control.

Their unyielding stance was never contemplated by Security Council Resolution 242 which acknowledged the right of Israel to exist within secure and recognised borders. It has been a major impediment to resolving the Arab-Jewish conflict - resulting in offers by Israel to cede its claims to sovereignty in more than 90% of those territories being rejected by the PA in 2000/1 and 2008.

Catherine Ashton - High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy European Union/Vice-President of the European Commission - was pandering to this decades old Arab demand when she told the European Parliament in Strasbourg on 30 December 2009:

East Jerusalem is occupied territory, together with the rest of the West Bank.

Israel's then Deputy Foreign Minister - Danny Ayalon - pennedan article inresponse inthe Wall Street Journal on 30 December 2009 - pointing out:


However, little appears to be truly understood about Israel's rights to what are generally called the 'occupied territories' but what really are 'disputed territories'.

That's because the land now known as the West Bank cannot be considered 'occupied' in the legal sense of the word as it had not attained recognized sovereignty before Israel's conquest. Contrary to some beliefs there has never been a Palestinian state, and no other nation has ever established Jerusalem as its capital despite it being under Islamic control for hundreds of years.

Ayalon criticised the perception that:

... Israel is occupying stolen land and that the Palestinians are the only party with national, legal and historic rights to it. Not only is this morally and factually incorrect, but the more this narrative is being accepted,the less likely the Palestinians feel the need to come to the negotiating table.

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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

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

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