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Australia: Eastern Jerusalem is Not Occupied Territory

The Australian government announced Thursday that it would no longer use the word “occupied” to describe East Jerusalem.

The Times of Israel reported:

Attorney General George Brandis explained Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop’s position that using the word “occupied” was judgmental and does not contribute to the dialogue about the contested area, the Australian Associated Press reported.

“The description of East Jerusalem as ‘occupied’ East Jerusalem is a term freighted with pejorative implications which is neither appropriate nor useful,” Brandis said during a Senate meeting. “It should not and will not be the practice of the Australian government to describe areas of negotiation in such judgmental language.”

The Times notes that the “decision came 47 years to the day after the 1967 Six Day War” in which Israel reunified Jerusalem, the eastern part of which was illegally occupied by Jordan from 1948 to 1967.

Last year’s election victory by the Liberal Party, led by Prime Minister Tony Abbott, foreshadowed the restoration of strong ties between Israel and Australia. Earlier this year, Foreign Minister Julie Bishop, in an interview with the Times of Israel, disputed the common description of “settlements” as “illegal.”

“Our interest is in a negotiated peace between the Israelis and the Palestinians and we believe that every opportunity should be given to those negotiations to proceed to its solution,” said Bishop, who came to Israel on Monday to attend the funeral of former prime minister Ariel Sharon. “I don’t think it’s helpful to prejudge the settlement issue if you’re trying to get a negotiated solution. And by deeming the activity as a war crime, it’s unlikely to engender a negotiated solution.”The issue of Israeli settlements should be determined in the course of the current US-brokered peace talks, she added.

[Photo: Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade / WikiCommons ]