AUSTRALIA has introduced the government’s new position on Israeli settlements in the West Bank by deciding to reinstate the term ‘occupied Palestine territories’.
Australian Foreign Affairs Minister Penny Wong vowed to strengthen the government’s objection to Israeli settlements in the West Bank by affirming that they are illegal under international law and a significant obstacle to peace.
Wong told the parliament that by reviving the use of the term ‘occupied Palestinian territories’, Australia would be bringing itself in line with the terminology employed by multiple other countries.
The term will be used to describe the territories in the West Bank and Gaza that Israel occupied in 1967.
The Australian Foreign Minister said that while Israel is a committed friend of Canberra, it was important to adjust the language used concerning settlements.
Australian officials have avoided using the terms ‘occupied’ and ‘occupation’ since 2014.
The move comes as Palestine pressured Australia to recognize Palestinian statehood.
Wong however said such decisions on recognizing Palestinian statehood would be ‘a matter for government’.
In October 2022, Canbverra reversed the decision to recognize West Jerusalem as the capital of Israel but made it clear the Australian Embassy will stay in Tel Aviv.
The Australia Israel & Jewish Affairs Council (AIJAC), the premier organization for the Australian Jewish Community, expressed its disappointment over the federal government’s decision by describing the move as ‘counterproductive’ and ‘one-sided’.
It added that the move will make it extremely difficult for Australia to present itself as a credible and effective advocate for a two-state peace.