BOWING TO ISRAELI PRESSURES, AUSTRALIA DROPS ‘OCCUPIED’ FROM REFERENCES TO EAST JERUSALEM AND JEWISH SETTLEMENTS
by Syarif Hidayat
The “extreme right-wing” pro-Israel lobbyists in Australia have long been influencing Australian politicians and exerting pressures on the Australian government to implement a foreign policy that is in favor of Israel.
In a foreign policy shift that seems to be bowing to Israeli pressures through the “extreme right-wing” pro-Israel lobbyists in the Kangaroo land, Australia declares East Jerusalem is not occupied.
According to former foreign minister Bob Carr”extreme right-wing” pro-Israel lobbyists had an “unhealthy” influence on Australia’s policy towards Israel and the Occupied Territories.
Speaking to ABC’s 7.30 program, Mr Carr has hit out at what he calls the “pro-Israel lobby in Melbourne”, saying it wielded “extraordinary influence” on Australia’s policy during his time in the previous Prime Minister Julia Gillard’s cabinet.
Australian Attorney general and foreign minister say ‘occupied East Jerusalem’ is a ‘term freighted with pejorative implications, which is neither appropriate nor useful.’
The Australian government will no longer refer to East Jerusalem as an occupied territory, it emerged Wednesday (June 4, 2014) in a statement released by Attorney-General George Brandeis after a Senate Estimates hearing. This constitutes a dramatic shift in Australian policy on Israel since 1967.
During the hearing, which focused on the country’s foreign policy in the Middle East, Greens Senator Lee Rhiannon called East Jerusalem occupied territory several times. Brandeis, who was responding to questions during the hearing, rejected use of the term “occupied” and said such a label predetermines an issue that is subject to Israeli-Palestinian negotiations.
“The tendentious description that Senator Rhiannon is using is not the descriptor that the government uses,” he said. ”I don’t profess [a] view on this matter. I’m merely correcting the use of a term.”
Several senators subsequently demanded to know what the government’s position on East Jerusalem is, but Brandeis refused to elaborate. However, after several hours, Brandeis recited a written statement indicating it does not define East Jerusalem as occupied.
Extraordinary and reckless policy departure
Drafted in coordination with Foreign Minister Julie Bishop and departmental head Peter Varghese, the statement said that ”The description of East Jerusalem as ‘Occupied East Jerusalem’ is a term freighted with pejorative implications, which is neither appropriate nor useful.”
The statement also indicated that Australia supports a peaceful solution to the “dispute” between Israel and the Palestinian people which “recognizes the right of Israel to exist peacefully within secure borders and also recognizes the aspiration to statehood of the Palestinian people.”
The statement went on to say that ”the description of areas which are subject to negotiations in the course of the peace process by reference to historical events is unhelpful.” The statement stressed that “historical events” refers to Israel’s occupation of the West Bank and East Jerusalem in 1967.
Several Australian senators criticized the statement, arguing that it is a departure from longstanding policy espoused by both right and left governments. Independent Senator Nick Xenophon told Fairfax Media that previous governments have all defined East Jerusalem as occupied.
”It’s an extraordinary and reckless departure from the bipartisan approach of the last 47 years,” Senator Xenophon said. ”It is contrary to the government’s position it is completely unhelpful to walk away from the term ‘occupied’. If you don’t acknowledge historical facts, what are the hopes for lasting peace in the Middle East? ”Even Israel’s strongest ally, the United States, does not hold this position,” he said.
The parliament hearing and the statement come just weeks after Palestinian Chief Negotiator Saeb Erekat lodged an official letter of protest to Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop over Australian Ambassador to Israel Dave Sharma ‘s meeting with Housing Minister Uri Ariel in his office in East Jerusalem. In the letter, Erekat called the meeting a violation of international law an attempt to legitimize an illegal situation.
Foreign Minister Bishop herself questioned the illegality of Israeli settlements on a visit to Israel in January. During an interview to the Times of Israel she said “I would like to see which international law has declared them illegal.” Most of the international community does not recognize Israel’s authority in East Jerusalem.
Gillard supports the Zionist apartheid
In recent media interviews Carr has said that Gillard overruled his suggestion that Australia not block the Palestinian bid to attain upgraded ‘non-member observer state’ status at the United Nations in 2012 and that this was a direct result of the Zionist lobby’s pull on the former prime minister.
Carr also revealed that Gillard was so immovable in her pro-Israel partisanship that she impeded him from making routine statements of concern about the growth and expansion of illegal Jewish settlements in the West Bank because it would upset the Zionist lobby.
When asked by ABC (Australia) reporter Sarah Ferguson how such a small group of people could wield so much power, Carr mentioned the significant amount of political campaign donations stemming from Zionist sources as well as the Zionist lobby’s courting of Australian politicians and journalists by sponsoring all-expenses-paid-for trips to Israel.
Carr accused Gillard of “subcontracting” Australia’s foreign policy vis-à-vis the Middle East to her wealthy Jewish backers.
In 2013 Gillard received the Jerusalem Prize for her unwavering support of the Zionist apartheid state and its terroristic policies. Members of Australia’s main Zionist groups praised Gillard for her “ongoing support of the aspirations of Israel’s people” and noted that she “empathises with the Jewish people and our connection with the land of Israel.”
“[T]he Zionist movement of Australia are honoured to be able to demonstrate our gratitude and respect for Ms Gillard’s many years as an unstinting supporter of the Jewish and Zionist cause,” said Sam Tatarka, president of the Zionist Council of Victoria.
Gillard unveiled her brazen Jewish exceptionalist mentality during a visit to the Jewish Holocaust Centre in Melbourne in 2012, where she stated that the holocaust was “the greatest crime humanity has ever known.”
It is unlikely that Gillard is unaware of the more than 60 million non-Jews who perished during the Second World War, or of the millions of Russian and Ukrainian Christians killed by Jewish Bolsheviks throughout the 1920s and 1930s.
Revealing her callous and cold-blooded outlook, Gillard ignores those victims because recognizing their suffering would undermine the racist Talmudic myth that Jews are the world’s ultimate and perennial victims.
Palestinian Authority condemns Australia
Palestinian Authority (PA) condemns Australia for declaring East Jerusalem not occupied. PA currently weighing response, senior Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat says, after Australia says will stop using the term ‘occupied’ when referring to East Jerusalem.
The Palestinian Authority on Thursday condemned Australia’s policy shift to stop referring to East Jerusalem as “occupied” by Israel, and warned that it is currently weighing its response.
In a letter sent to Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop, which was obtained by Haaretz, Palestinian Chief Negotiator Saeb Erekat said the Palestinians view this decision “in the gravest terms,” and accused Australia of not recognizing the illegality of Israel’s settlements policy.
In his letter, Erekat said the term “occupation” is not judgmental, but a recognition of the “legal fact” that Israel occupies the Palestinian territories, as affirmed by a UN resolution.
Erekat said Australia’s refusal to use the term “occupation” with regards to East Jerusalem is the latest in a pattern of behavior which shows Australia “has no interest in complying with its duty under international law not to recognize the illegal Israeli settlement regime in Palestinian territory.”
As part of this pattern, Erekat noted a visit to East Jerusalem by Australia’s ambassador to Israel, where he met with Israeli Housing Minister Uri Ariel.
“This pattern of behavior also places Australia badly out of step with the international consensus that the 1967 border must be reinforced as the basis for negotiations towards a two-state solution,” the letter said.
Erekat concluded by warning Australia that the Palestinians will turn to the Arab League and the Islamic Conference to review their relations with Australia in light of this pattern.
Australia’s foreign policy shift
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 today delivered a statement to clarify its stance on the controversial question of the legality of settlements after the issued flared up at a Senate hearing the night before.
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 in relation to the settlements would represent a “massive shift’’ in Australia’s foreign policy.
Senator 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, DFAT secretary 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.
Ms Bishop raised eyebrows in January when she questioned which international law had declared Israeli settlements illegal.
Zionist lobby power
Former foreign minister Bob Carr was a vocal critic of settlements, which opponents site as a key obstacle to a future Palestinian state and lasting peace agreement with Israel. Carr has hit out at what he calls the “pro-Israel lobby in Melbourne”, saying it wielded “extraordinary influence” on Australia’s policy during his time in Julia Gillard’s cabinet.
Speaking to ABC’s 7.30 program, Mr Carr said “extreme right-wing” pro-Israel lobbyists had an “unhealthy” influence on Australia’s policy towards Israel and the Occupied Territories. Mr Carr details his time as foreign minister, and his criticism of the pro-Israel lobby, in his new book, Diary of a Foreign Minister.
“I found it very frustrating that we couldn’t issue, for example, a routine expression of concern about the spread of Israeli settlements on the West Bank – great blocks of housing for Israeli citizens going up on land that everyone regards as part of the future Palestinian state if there is to be a two-state solution,” he said.
“The important point about a diary of a foreign minister is you shine light on areas of government that are otherwise in darkness, and the influence of lobby groups is one of those areas. “What I’ve done is to spell out how the extremely conservative instincts of the pro-Israel lobby in Melbourne was exercised through the then-prime minister’s office.”
Mr Carr and Ms Gillard came to political blows over her planned support for Israel during a crucial vote in the United Nations. “I had to resist it, and my book tells the story of that resistance, coming to a climax when there was a dispute on the floor of caucus about my recommendation that we don’t block the Palestinian bid for increased non-state status at the United Nations,” Mr Carr said.
Australia-Israel and Jewish Affairs Council rejects claims
The national chairman of the Australia-Israel and Jewish Affairs Council, Mark Leibler, has rejected Mr Carr’s claims as “a figment of his imagination”. “Just unpick for a moment what he’s saying. He’s talking about the Jewish lobby, he’s talking about a difference of opinion between him and the prime minister,” Mr Leibler told Lateline.
“Why can’t they have a difference of opinion on a matter related to Israeli policy? Mark Leibler rejects Carr’s comments on lobby influence (Lateline)
“No, if there’s a difference of opinion … the prime minister has to be wrong because she’s controlled by the Jewish lobby.
“How does the Jewish lobby control the prime minister? Through donations to the ALP and sending people to Israel. I mean, give me a break. Would anyone seriously accept that?”
Mr Leibler says he was able to raise concerns with Ms Gillard in the same way he raised them with Kevin Rudd, John Howard, Paul Keating, Bob Hawke and Malcolm Fraser. “Julia Gillard is an independent-thinking woman. She can come to her own conclusions without being influenced by the Jewish lobby,” he said.
He says the council’s lobbying of governments is no different to other community organisations. “When we’ve got an issue which is a serious one, which needs to be raised, we haven’t had a problem in getting access to either ALP or Liberal prime ministers or foreign ministers and so it should be,” he said.
“Any representative of a community organisation, if they’ve got something serious to say, they’ll get the access.” Carr says Gillard was selfish to cling to Labor leadership
Mr Carr, who switched his support to Kevin Rudd just before the leadership ballot which ousted Ms Gillard, says Ms Gillard was selfish to cling to the Labor leadership for as long as she did.
“Before the final leadership challenge I thought if someone had presented me with appalling [polling] figures about the state government in New South Wales [when Mr Carr was premier of that state] that said you’re now a significant barrier to the government’s re-election, I would’ve said, ‘look fine, I’ve done my best, it ain’t working, I’ll pull out’, and apart from anything else I won’t be the one indicted with the responsibility on the Sunday after [the] election,” he said.
“We all wanted Julia to work. Even after my disagreement in October/November 2012 on matters relating to Palestinian status and the Middle East, I was still committed to her.
“But by the time we decided in our wisdom as a cabinet to go to war with the newspapers, I thought the very viability of social democracy in Australia, of a viable Australian Labor Party, was now at stake.
“So with some reluctance and with respect for her, but real doubts about her political judgement, I moved into the Rudd camp.”
Carr defends flight complaints as memoir ‘flavour’
Mr Carr’s diary, extracts from which were published in news outlets on Wednesday, includes tips on buying ties, complaints about business class flights which he likens to being locked in a slaving ship, and notes on the perfect breakfast and his obsessive exercise regime.
Mr Carr told 7.30 that he lost weight in his first month as a jet-setting foreign minister because of “living on planes” and eating “inherently unhealthy” airline food which “I thought would’ve knocked about two years off my life”. “Living on airline food and food at official banquets offended every rule of life I adhere to on this front,” he said.
Asked if he was being a “prima donna” because he complained about not flying first class, he said: “Faced with a choice, having to get off a plane and go straight to a meeting with the French foreign minister in Paris, I tell you what, I’d prefer first class any time”.
“I think they [the complaints] add colour and authenticity to the book.”
Asked “do you think that Australians will forgive you for presenting yourself as a dandy who thinks a lot about which tie he’s going to wear?”, Mr Carr replied: “Yeah. I think self-parody and irony is the stuff of life. And I wanted the book to have that flavour.
“The flavour is me. [It’s irony]… and fun. A sense of fun. Life is too short to be taken seriously.
“I think we’ve got an obligation to share with the Australian people how it works. And I can’t think of a book, if I can be so immodest, I can’t think of a book like this that takes the people into confidence in a whole host of ways. And I think the political system is the better for it.”
Arab states urged to pressure Australia on E.Jerusalem
A statement released by Australia’s attorney general a few days ago said that Australia will no longer refer to East Jerusalem as an occupied territory. A Jordanian minister on Saturday called on Arab governments to pile pressures on Australia to abolish a recent decision to stop using the term “occupied” when referring to East Jerusalem.
“The Australian decision is negative and unacceptable as it contradicts with international agreements that recognize East Jerusalem as an occupied territory,” Endowments Minister Hayel Ben Dawoud told Anadolu Agency.
A statement released by Australia’s attorney general a few days ago said that Australia will no longer refer to East Jerusalem as an occupied territory, which marks a radical change in Australian policy on the occupied territory since 1967.
”The description of East Jerusalem as ‘Occupied East Jerusalem’ is a term freighted with pejorative implications, which is neither appropriate nor useful,” George Brandis said in a statement cited by the Australian newspaper The Sydney Morning Herald.
East Jerusalem has been captured by Israel during the 1967 Middle East war. International law considers the West Bank and East Jerusalem occupied territories and views as illegal all Jewish settlement building on the land.
The Jordanian minister said the Australian decision will reflect negatively on Australia’s relations with Arab and Islamic countries, going on to call on the Australian government to reconsider its decision.
PA calls for intl. pressure on Australia
Palestinian officials have called on the international community to put pressure on Australia to retract its latest statement about the occupied East Jerusalem al-Quds.
Palestinian chief negotiator, Saeb Erekat has already sent a letter to Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop over Canberra’s shift in policy. Erekat said the Palestinians view the move in the gravest terms, and accused Australia of not recognizing the illegality of Israel’s settlements.
The Palestinian Liberation Organization also believes that Australia’s move undermines efforts to prove the disastrous consequences of Israel’s occupation of East Jerusalem al-Quds.
The Jordanian government has also strongly condemned Australia’s decision to not consider East Jerusalem a-Quds as an occupied territory which Israel seized during a six-day war in 1967.
Based on international laws, Israel’s construction of settlements in East Jerusalem al-Quds and other parts of the West Bank is illegal. To protest Australia’s unlawful recognition of Israeli settlements in occupied East Jerusalem al Quds, Palestinian officials have now demanded that all Arab states and the Arab league review their relations with Canberra. (HSH)