Australia’s decision on 5 June to no longer refer to East Jerusalem and the West Bank as “occupied territory” but rather “disputed territory” has provoked outrage among Islamic and Arab countries accredited in Australia.
They sought and received an urgent meeting with Australia’s Foreign Minister Julie Bishop on 19 June – following a letter sent to Ms Bishop on 12 June by Moroccan Ambassador HE Mohamed Mael-Ainin on behalf of the Heads of Mission of this powerful Islamic lobby
The Ambassador’s letter has not been released by the Foreign Affairs Department as it:
“does not publicly release correspondence to the Foreign Minister from representatives of foreign countries.”
Yet – in a media release issued after the meeting – Ms Bishop attached her written response to the Moroccan Ambassador – in which she stated:
“I emphasise that there has been no change in the Australian Government’s position on the legal status of the Palestinian Territories, including East Jerusalem. Our position is consistent with relevant UN resolutions on the issue, adopted over many years, starting with UN Security Council Resolutions 242 and 338. Senator Brandis’ statement was about nomenclature, and was not a comment on the legal status of the Palestinian Territories.
Australia continues to be a strong supporter of a just and lasting two-state solution, with Israel and a Palestinian state existing side by side in peace and security, within internationally recognised borders. To this end, we are urging both sides to resume direct negotiations. We do not consider it helpful to engage in debates over legal issues, nor to prejudge any final status issues that are the subject of these negotiations.”
Creating a second Arab State in Mandatory Palestine – in addition to Jordan – for the first time ever in recorded history – remains an illusion after fruitless negotiations spanning the last 20 years.
Legal issues will determine final status issues – one essential legal prerequisite being secure and recognized borders for Israel demanded by Resolutions 242 and 338.
The Palestine Liberation Organisation’s acceptance of the League of Nations and United Nations decisions recognising the right of the Jewish people to reconstitute the Jewish National Home in Mandatory Palestine remains another legal lynch pin to achieving Australia’s desired two-state solution.
Refusal to recognise the State of Israel by all 57 member states of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) has materially contributed to the 130 years old Jewish-Arab conflict remaining unresolved.
Jordan’s Ambassador Rima Ahmad Alaadeen after meeting Ms Bishop reportedly made the OIC’s potential hostility towards Australia very clear:
“Alaadeen said she could not say whether there would be trade sanctions against Australia. The controversy was on the agenda of the 57-state Organization of Islamic Cooperation summit of foreign ministers in Jeddah this week.
“There is a clause or a paragraph … on the recent events in Australian policy regarding East Jerusalem, so we have to wait and see what transpires,” she said.
Iraq’s Ambassador to Australia, Mouayed Saleh, who also attended the meeting, similarly said he could not rule out trade sanctions.”
In pursuing this diplomatic dressing down of Australia including threats of sanctions for having the temerity to pursue its own independent foreign policy – these Islamic and Arab States missed a golden opportunity to raise with Ms Bishop a shocking Report released on 16 June by the Human Rights Council received from its “Independent International Commission of Inquiry on the Syrian Arab Republic” – a fellow Arab and Islamic State.
The Report – detailing developments in the ongoing conflict between 15 March and 15 June – states:
“In three years of conflict, millions of Syrians have suffered the loss of relatives to attacks, to violence in detention facilities, to disappearances and to starvation. Hundreds of thousands have lost their lives. The failure to protect civilians, both from the conduct of the Syrian Government forces and non-State armed groups unaligned with the Government (NSAGs), has led to unspeakable suffering. An estimated 9.3 million Syrians are in need of urgent humanitarian assistance, with 4.25 million IDPs and 2.8 million refugees in neighbouring countries. The vast majority are women and children.
In the course of the conflict, the infrastructure that constitutes civilian life has been targeted and misused. Schools have been reduced to rubble or occupied by armed forces, hospitals have come under attack, and entire residential neighbourhoods have been destroyed.”
Horrors being currently perpetrated include:
- Extra-judicial killings, sexual assaults, beatings, enforced disappearances and arbitrary arrests
- Reports of deaths in custody, particularly in detention centres in Damascus city, rising dramatically. Former detainees described being held in cells with corpses of cellmates who had been tortured or died as a result of untreated medical conditions.
- Persistent reports of the use of torture – including beating, electrocution and hanging from walls.
- Increasing attacks by Government forces and the armed opposition targeting civilians.
Australia is presently a member of the UN Security Council.
The Report states that through UN inaction:
“a space has been created for the worst of humanity to express itself.”
Those Islamic and Arab diplomats meeting Ms Bishop should have been urging Australia to sponsor a Security Council resolution demanding that an armed UN force be sent to Syria to implement an imposed cease fire to end this mayhem and slaughter.
Regrettably – imposing bully boy tactics on Australia was obviously considered far more important than trying to end the interminable suffering of millions of their Syrian Arab brethren and sisters.Go figure.
David Singer blogs at Jordan is Palestine