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Australian decision on Jerusalem violates int’l resolutions — commentators

By Khetam Malkawi - Jun 08,2014 - Last updated at Jun 08,2014

AMMAN — Australia’s decision to remove the term “occupied” when referring to East Jerusalem is in violation of UN resolutions and a sign of disrespect for Palestinians and Arabs in general, according to political analysts. 

The Australian government on Friday decided to remove the term “occupied” when referring to East Jerusalem, a move blasted by Palestinians as “toxic” and an obstacle to peace, and welcomed by Israel, Agence France-Presse (AFP) reported.

The Palestinian foreign ministry on Sunday summoned Australia’s diplomatic representative over the issue.

Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyad Al Maliki demanded that Canberra “give an official clarification of its position on East Jerusalem in the next few days”, AFP reported.

“Palestine is a state and its capital is under occupation, something that the United Nations and all its bodies are agreed on,” Maliki told reporters in Ramallah.

Jordan did not issue an official response to the Australian announcement, but Government Spokesperson Mohammad Momani stressed in remarks to The Jordan Times on Saturday that the Kingdom considers all territories annexed by Israel in 1967 — including East Jerusalem as “occupied”.

“This definition is the basis for the peace process that seeks to achieve the two-state solution and considering Palestine as an independent state with East Jerusalem as it capital,” Momani told The Jordan Times.

Former foreign minister Kamel Abu Jaber said Australia’s decision is in violation of UN Security Council Resolution 242, which considers Palestinian territories annexed by Israel in 1967 as “occupied”.

The resolution was adopted unanimously by the UN Security Council on November 22, 1967, in the aftermath of the 1967 Arab-Israeli war, and it was adopted under Chapter VI of the UN Charter, Abu Jaber said.

The preamble of the resolution refers to the “inadmissibility of the acquisition of territory by war and the need to work for a just and lasting peace in the Middle East in which every state in the area can live in security”.

“Australia is a member state at the Security Council and the Resolution 242 was adopted by all members,” Abu Jaber told The Jordan Times, criticising Australia’s foreign policy as being pro-Zionist.

Saad Abu Dayyeh, a political science professor at the University of Jordan, said the current Australian administration, led by Tony Abbott who was elected last year, has been leaning towards supporting Israel and ignoring the Palestinian side in the Middle East conflict.

“In November, the new government’s… representative at the Security Council abstained on two anti-Israel resolutions at the UN — one to end all settlement activities, and another calling for compliance with the Geneva Convention,” he told The Jordan Times.

The move, Abu Dayyeh said, reflects that Canberra would “no longer reflexively vote against Israel on settlement-related votes”. 

“Practically now, Australia refrains from using the term ‘illegal’ to refer to settlements,” he added, noting that the Australian government does not refer to the West Bank as “occupied” territory, but rather “disputed” territory.

These actions, he said, show disrespect to the Arab point of view.

“I think Muslims and Arabs will be worthy of this disrespect if they do not react. They should have reacted from the first moment last November,” Abu Dayyeh noted.

Abu Jaber called on the Arab League and Arab countries to condemn Canberra’s decision, while Islamist leader Hamzah Mansour expressed pessimism over the stance of Arab countries over the whole issue. 

The lack of proper response from Arab countries is an “indicator of the weakness of the Arab world, which forgot about resistance”, said Mansour, secretary general of the Islamic Action Front, the political arm of the Muslim Brotherhood in Jordan.

He expressed fear that Australia’s decision may push other Western countries — and even some Arab states — to follow suit.

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