[Published 8 June 2014]
Australia will no longer be referring to East Jerusalem and the West Bank (Judea and Samaria) as “occupied territories”.
Attorney-General George Brandis made this clear when he read a statement to the Senate foreign affairs committee this week indicating the language of “occupation” was:
“judgmental”, ”freighted with pejorative implications” and ”neither appropriate nor useful” for the peace process.
This injection of sanity into the contribution being made by the international community to help resolve the 130 years old Arab-Jewish conflict is long overdue and very welcome.
The use of the terms “occupied territories” by the European Union or “Occupied Palestinian Territories” by the United Nations has emboldened the Arab League, the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO) and the Palestinian Authority (PA) to maintain their 47 year old demand that every square metre of land captured by Israel from Jordan in the 1967 Six Day War be returned to Arab control.
The world’s nations need to awaken from their fiction-induced slumber
Their unyielding stance was never contemplated by Security Council Resolution 242 which acknowledged the right of Israel to exist within secure and recognised borders. It has been a major impediment to resolving the Arab-Jewish conflict - resulting in offers by Israel to cede its claims to sovereignty in more than 90% of those territories being rejected by the PA in 2000/1 and 2008.
Catherine Ashton - High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy European Union/Vice-President of the European Commission - was pandering to this decades old Arab demand when she told the European Parliament in Strasbourg on 30 December 2009:
“East Jerusalem is occupied territory, together with the rest of the West Bank.”
Israel’s then Deputy Foreign Minister - Danny Ayalon - penned an article in response in the Wall Street Journal on 30 December 2009 - pointing out:
” However, little appears to be truly understood about Israel’s rights to what are generally called the “occupied territories” but what really are “disputed territories.”
That’s because the land now known as the West Bank cannot be considered “occupied” in the legal sense of the word as it had not attained recognized sovereignty before Israel’s conquest. Contrary to some beliefs there has never been a Palestinian state, and no other nation has ever established Jerusalem as its capital despite it being under Islamic control for hundreds of years.”
Ayalon criticised the perception that:
“... Israel is occupying stolen land and that the Palestinians are the only party with national, legal and historic rights to it. Not only is this morally and factually incorrect, but the more this narrative is being accepted, the less likely the Palestinians feel the need to come to the negotiating table.”
Ayalon was affirming that the West Bank was “no man’s land” - where sovereignty still remained undetermined.
Israel and the PLO - the PA having been disbanded in January 2013 - still continue to be unable to agree on the final allocation of sovereignty after fruitless negotiations spanning the last 20 years.
The latest round of negotiations ended in total collapse on 29 April with the PLO still demanding sovereignty in 100% of the territories (or perhaps - as has been reported - some land swaps in compensation).
Ayalon’s prediction in 2009 has proved to be chillingly correct in 2014 - and will continue to prevail whilst the PLO refuses to acknowledge that Israel has any claims to sovereignty in these areas.
Such claims are based on legal rights vested in the Jewish people pursuant to Articles 94 and 95 of the 1920 Treaty of Sevres, article 6 of the League of Nations Mandate for Palestine 1920 and Article 80 of the United Nations Charter.
The PLO considers such rights to be “null and void” under Article 20 of the PLO Covenant - seeking to snuff out Israel’s claims to what was the heart of the Jewish biblical and ancestral homeland 3000 years ago.
Ignoring this body of international law spells disaster for Israel and the PLO ever resolving their competing claims.
Australia’s decision to call a spade a spade will hopefully encourage other countries to follow suit - as well as implementing international action to make some further changes in the duplicitous diplomatic double speak involving the use of misleading and deceptive language which has hindered rather than facilitated any resolution of the conflict.
These changes include:
1. Replacing the term “occupied territories” with the term “disputed territories” to clarify that Jews also have legal rights in these territories in addition to those claimed by the Arabs.
2. Using the 3000 years old term “Judea and Samaria” to replace the term “West Bank” - first coined by Jordan in 1950 to erase any trace of Jews having lived there after having been driven out by the invading Jordanian army in 1948.
3. Substituting “Palestinian Arabs” for “Palestinians” and “Palestinian people” - terms first appearing in the 1964 PLO Charter that excluded former Jewish and other non-Arab residents and their descendants having any rights.
4. Referring to the conflict as the “Jewish-Arab conflict” - which commenced in about 1880 instead of the “Palestinian-Israeli ” conflict - which only commenced in 1948.
5. Omitting any reference to the term “State of Palestine” until the provisions of the Montevideo Convention 1934 are complied with.
The world has been duped into the use of language that reflects fiction - not fact. Used often enough it takes on a highly damaging life of its own.
Erasing such language from the international lexicon is long overdue.
The world’s nations need to awaken from their fiction-induced slumber.