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Australia revives use of ‘occupied Palestinian territories’ in communications

August 8, 2023 at 3:42 pm

Australian Foreign Minister Penny Wong on May 18, 2023 [Lisa Marie David/Pool/Getty Images]

In a significant diplomatic boost for Palestine, Australia declared on Tuesday that it is going to revive the use of the term “occupied Palestinian territories” in its official communications.

“This is consistent with UN Security Council resolutions and the approach taken by key partners, including the United Kingdom, New Zealand and the European Union,” Foreign Minister Penny Wong told parliament. “This is a term which has been used, including on past occasions by past foreign ministers and past governments, that is consistent with much of the nomenclature that is used within the UN context and is used, as I said, by key partners.”

Last year Australia also rolled back an earlier decision to recognise West Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. “The government has reaffirmed Australia’s previous and longstanding position that Jerusalem is a final status issue that should be resolved as part of any peace negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian people,” Wong said at the time. “In adopting the term, we are clarifying that the West Bank, including East Jerusalem and Gaza, were occupied by Israel following the 1967 war, and that the occupation continues.”

She also told the ruling Labour Party’s caucus that the government is “looking to strengthen its objection to settlements by affirming that they are illegal under international law and a significant obstacle to peace.”

READ: Australia Labor Party passes resolution urging government to recognise state of Palestine

According to Australia’s ABC News, “The term ‘occupied territories’ has been used by a handful of foreign ministers in recent decades but, since 2014, most ministers have refrained from using the term occupied or occupation when referring to Palestinian territories.”

The Palestinian Authority Foreign Ministry welcomed the move. “We look positively at this important development in the Australian position that is committed to international law and UN resolutions, and is supportive of international efforts aimed at reviving the peace process in accordance with international peace references, foremost of which is the principle of the two-state solution.”

The ministry added that it is looking forward to the Australian government implementing the decision in line with international law and legitimacy.