JERUSALEM, Israel -- Palestinian Liberation Organization senior member Hanan Ashwari called Australia’s decision not to refer to east Jerusalem as occupied territory “absolutely disgraceful and shocking.”
Australia announced its decision Thursday as the Palestinian Authority observed “Naksa Day,” marking the reunification of Jerusalem in 1967, a day Israel celebrates and the P.A. curses.
Australian Attorney General George Brandeis said he found the word “occupied” inappropriate and detrimental to dialogue.
“The description of east Jerusalem as 'occupied' east Jerusalem is a term freighted with pejorative implications which is neither appropriate nor useful," Brandis said. “It should not and will not be the practice of the Australian government to describe areas of negotiation in such judgmental language," the Australian Associated Press reported.
Ashwari and the PLO have a decidedly different perspective on Jerusalem, as well as Judea and Samaria, Israel’s biblical heartland, the “West Bank,” a name coined by Jordan’s Hashemite Kingdom during its 19-year rule to disassociate it with Israel.
“It is absolutely disgraceful and shocking that on the 47th anniversary of Israel’s military occupation of the West Bank [including east Jerusalem], and Gaza, Australian Attorney-General George Brandis is issuing such inflammatory and irresponsible statements,” the Times of Israel quoted Ashwari. “Such pronouncements are not only in blatant violation of international law and global consensus, but are also lethal in any pursuit of peace and toxic to any attempt at enacting a global rule of law.”
In the strongest terms, Ashwari called Israel’s “illegal annexation of east Jerusalem [sic] a “deliberate and egregious violation not just of international humanitarian law and consensus but of the basic norms of responsible behavior that governs relations among civilized states.”
“Trying to fabricate or distort the law to fit Israel’s lawless behavior is shameful and dangerous,” she continued. “Attorney General Brandis, whether out of ignorance or whether out of blind bias, is trying to render Australia complicit in the Israeli occupation, and is forcing it to become an advocate of international criminal behavior.”
Although Ashrawi is aligned with Mahmoud Abbas’s Fatah Party, her remarks appear to more closely follow the charter of Hamas, which calls for the destruction of Israel, not the oft-repeated mantra of two states for two peoples, existing side by side in peace and security.