Australia to refer to Israeli settlements as 'illegal,’ territories as 'occupied'

Foreign Minister Penny Wong
Foreign Minister Penny Wong. (Photo: Twitter)
CANBERRA — Australia's Labor government will seek to avert a damaging internal split over the Israel-Palestine conflict by hardening its language on the Palestinian territories, with the federal government to officially refer to Israel’s settlements in the West Bank as “illegal” and the territories as “occupied”.اضافة اعلان

Foreign Minister Penny Wong announced Tuesday before parliament the shift in the country's policy, prompting the opposition to accuse her of showing more concern for factional tensions than international diplomacy, The Age newspaper reported.

Condemned by pro-Israel groups as one-sided, celebrated by Palestinian advocatesThe news was condemned by pro-Israel groups as one-sided, while Palestinian advocates celebrated the move but pressed Labor to go further.

A chance to strengthen Palestinian statehood
The decision comes less than two weeks before Labor’s national conference, an event some party activists hope to use to strengthen Labor’s policy platform commitment to Palestinian statehood.

Wong said the government was “gravely concerned about alarming trends that are significantly reducing the prospects of peace” between Israel and Palestine.

Significant obstacle to peace“The Australian government is strengthening its opposition to settlements by affirming they are illegal under international law and a significant obstacle to peace,” she told parliament.

Wong said the decision brought Australia into line with the United Kingdom, New Zealand, and the European Union, adding she had briefed the Israeli ambassador on the issue because Australia remains “a committed friend of Israel”.

Colin Rubenstein, executive director of the Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council, said the government’s new stance was “one-sided” and rewarded “destructive Palestinian tactics”.

“This decision will make it extremely difficult for Australia to present itself as a credible and effective advocate for a two-state peace,” he said.

Nasser Mashni, president of the Australia Palestine Advocacy Network, welcomed the change as a “sensible, modest move by the Australian government”.

“Israeli settlements are in clear violation of international law and there is no doubt that Israel is occupying Palestinian lands,” he said.
A commitment to recogonize Palestine

“We look forward to the government taking the next step and honoring its commitment to recognize Palestine.”

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