Australia reviving use of term ‘occupied Palestinian territories’

Australia reviving use of term ‘occupied Palestinian territories’

Move consistent with UN Security Council resolutions, also with approach taken by UK, EU, New Zealand, says Foreign Minister Penny Wong

By Riyaz ul Khaliq

ISTANBUL (AA) – In a significant diplomatic boost for Palestine, Australia Tuesday declared it would revive use of the term "occupied Palestinian territories" in its official communications.

This change “is consistent with UN Security Council resolutions, it is consistent with 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 including the United Kingdom, New Zealand and the European Union,” she added.

Last year Australia also rolled back an earlier decision to recognize 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 of the earlier decision.

She said of the new change: “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 Labor Party’s caucus that the government is “looking to strengthen the government's objection to settlements by affirming that they are illegal under international law and a significant obstacle to peace.”

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 Foreign Ministry welcomed the move, saying it “looks positively at this important development in the Australian position that is committed to international law and United Nations 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 said it is looking forward to the Australian government implementing the decision in line with international law and legitimacy.

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