The Australian government is affirming its position on illegal Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank and has decided to revert back to referring to the area as “occupied Palestinian territories”, calling settlements a breach of international law.
Australia will officially reinstate the term “Occupied Palestinian Territories,” and will harden its objections to settlements in the West Bank, the country’s Labor party said on Tuesday.
During a party caucus briefing, Foreign Minister Penny Wong said Canberra would move to “strengthen the government’s objection to settlements by affirming that they are illegal under international law and a significant obstacle to peace,” Australia’s ABC News reported.
“In adopting the term we are clarifying that the West Bank, including East Jerusalem and Gaza, were occupied by Israel following the 1967 war and that the occupation continues and reaffirms our commitment to negotiate a two-state solution in which Israel and a future Palestinian state coexist.”
Since 2014, Australian officials have avoided using the words “occupied” or “occupation” when referring to the West Bank. According to the Australian Broadcast Corporation, prior to that year, the usage of these terms was inconsistent.
“The description of East Jerusalem as ‘occupied’ East Jerusalem is a term freighted with pejorative implications, which is neither appropriate nor useful,” then-attorney general George Brandis told a Senate hearing in 2014.