Friday 25th of July 2014

senator brandis of australia solves the israeli-palestinian conflict with the stroke of a pen...

brandis settlementss

The Abbott government has ruled out using the term "occupied" when describing Israeli settlements in East Jerusalem, prompting suggestions about a shift in Australia's foreign policy.

The government on Thursday delivered a statement to clarify its stand on the controversial question of the legality of settlements after the issued flared up at a Senate hearing the night before.

The attorney general, George Brandis, on behalf of the minister for foreign affairs, Julie Bishop, said it was "unhelpful" to refer to historic events when describing these areas, given the ongoing Middle East peace process.

"The description of East Jerusalem as 'occupied' East Jerusalem is a term freighted with pejorative implications which is neither appropriate nor useful," Brandis told a Senate estimates hearing.

"It should not and will not be the practice of the Australian government to describe areas of negotiation in such judgmental language."

Brandis sparked a heated debate the previous evening when he stated that no Australian government of either political persuasion "acknowledges or accepts" the use of the word occupied.

A number of senators disagreed, pointing out that Australia had voted in support of UN resolutions in 2011 and 2012 where such language was used to describe the East Jerusalem settlements.

Independent senator Nick Xenophon, among other senators, suggested that dropping the term occupied would be a "massive shift" in Australia's foreign policy.

Xenophon tried unsuccessfully to determine whether the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade had changed its legal advice to the government on settlements.

In line with protocol, the secretary of Dfat, Peter Varghese, did not discuss the department's legal advice before the Senate committee, but did concede the word "occupied" had been used by the government in the past.

Bishop raised eyebrows in January when she questioned which international law had declared Israeli settlements illegal.


unhelpful zealoted bigot in charge of the lexicography...

Julia Gillard narrowly avoided a caucus revolt 18 months ago by proposing Australia abstain in the United Nations resolution to grant the Palestinian Authority observer status in the UN.

Today the Attorney-General George Brandis delivered a statement clarifying the Government's stance on the question of Israeli settlements after independent Senator Nick Xenophon tried, without success, to find out about legal advice to the Government and probing by Greens Senator Lee Rhiannon at a Senate hearing last night.

LEE RHIANNON: Why did the Australian Ambassador to Israel attend a meeting in occupied East Jerusalem with the Israeli minister for housing and construction; the same minister who is forecasting a 50 per cent increase in settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territories in the next five years?

GEORGE BRANDIS: Well I think I should say, Senator Rhiannon, that the rather tendentious way in which you've put that question and in particular the use of the word "occupied" is not something that the Australian Government of either political persuasion acknowledges or accepts.

LEE RHIANNON: So you don't use the term "Occupied Palestinian Territories", even though it's a United Nations term used widely by a number of international agencies, European members et cetera…

(talking over each other)

GEORGE BRANDIS: Well it's used by a lot of people. It's used by a lot of communists too. Weren't you a member of the Communist Party once?

ALEXANDRA KIRK: After consulting the Foreign Minister overnight, Senator Brandis returned to the hearing this morning to explain the Government's position.

GEORGE BRANDIS: The description of areas which are the subject of negotiations in the course of the peace process, by reference to historical events is unhelpful.

idiotic nazi policy of the australian government...

Australia’s new policy of refusing to describe East Jerusalem as “occupied”, confirmed by a statement made by Attorney-General George Brandis in consultation with Foreign Minister Julie Bishop, will not be helpful to Australia’s reputation, the peace process or Israel itself.

The Abbott government’s new position shatters what has been for nearly 50 years a completely bipartisan position. Neither Fraser and Peacock, nor Howard and Downer either adopted or even explored taking a similar stance. And for very good reason.

East Jerusalem was occupied by Israel in 1967. No other state – not even the US – describes the situation in any other terms. There are multiple Security Council resolutions rejecting Israeli sovereignty over East Jerusalem. The International Court of Justice in 2004 declared not only that the West Bank was occupied but that this was illegal. The court made no distinction between East Jerusalem and other parts of the Palestinian territories.

If East Jerusalem is not to be referred to as “occupied”, why not Nablus or Bethlehem? If  the Australian government can say “occupied East Jerusalem” is fraught with “pejorative implications” what is to stop Ms Bishop applying this to the occupied West Bank as a whole? It is a short step away for the Coalition government to declare that all the West Bank, with its population of more than 2 million Arabs, is no more than a “disputed" territory. 

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trade will suffer...

The head of Arab Bank Australia has warned trade with the Middle East will suffer after the Federal Government's decision to stop referring to Israeli settlements in East Jerusalem as "occupied territories".

A delegation of Arabic and Islamic countries last week lodged a formal protest to the Foreign Minister over Australia's recent shift to the term "disputed territories".

Arab Bank Australia managing director Joseph Rizk today appeared before a parliamentary committee examining investment in Middle Eastern countries.

He says Australia's recent move is still being absorbed in the Middle East, but urgently needs to be clarified.

"It's quite obvious that the Middle East is not going to boycott Australia, well that's my view, but over time it will affect trade ... if the policy isn't clarified and the commentary that's recently been made isn't elaborated on," Mr Rizk said.

would not know a cow of a policy if he fell on it...

Rural Liberals are seething over Attorney-General George Brandis's remarks about East Jerusalem, accusing him of "intellectual arrogance".

In a Senate hearing earlier this month Senator Brandis declared the Government would no longer refer to East Jerusalem as "occupied".

Arab countries viewed the change in language as a policy shift, and the Palestinian delegation to Australia said it risked trade sanctions.

This has upset some of Senator Brandis's Liberal colleagues, with one MP saying it could have created a debacle of similar proportions to Labor's 2011 decision to ban live cattle exports to Indonesia.

The MP accused Senator Brandis of "intellectual arrogance", saying he does not spend enough time with normal people and instead operates in a Senate vacuum.

"George Brandis couldn't sell lollies to children," he said.

Another said: "Poor old George wouldn't know a live animal if he fell on it."

The ABC understands the issue was raised with Defence Minister David Johnston by a number of delegates at the West Australian Liberal Party's State Council meeting in Manjimup, south of Perth, on Saturday.

So far, farming and pastoral groups have said little publicly about the issue. The ABC has been told they are disappointed by the remarks but do not want to inflame the issue by saying too much...

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