8 August 2023

The Executive Council of Australian Jewry and the Zionist Federation of Australia are deeply concerned by the Government’s statement and change in language about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

The ECAJ and ZFA are representative peak bodies of the Australian Jewish community. ECAJ President Jillian Segal and ZFA President Jeremy Leibler jointly stated:

“The change in language is inaccurate, ahistorical and counterproductive.”

“Describing East Jerusalem, the West Bank and Gaza as ‘occupied Palestinian territories’ effectively denies any Jewish claim to the West Bank and Jerusalem. The most important Jewish holy sites of the Temple Mount and the Western Wall are in East Jerusalem, and there has been an unbroken Jewish presence in the West Bank for thousands of years. Israelis and Palestinians have agreed to negotiate the division of the West Bank between them. Describing the territories as ‘Palestinian’ not only pre-empts the outcome of negotiations but is counterproductive.”

“Palestinians and Israelis agreed in 1993 that the settlements and the division of the West Bank and Gaza would be subject to final status negotiations. The Foreign Minister has previously stated that Australia should not pre-empt the outcome of final status issues. It is regrettable that the government has now done that.”

“Palestinian terrorism against Israeli targets has risen dramatically, and Palestinian leadership has refused to enter into negotiations with Israel in the last two years. Instead of attempting to pre-empt the outcome of negotiations in favour of a party that refuses to negotiate, the Australian Government should be urging the Palestinians to return to the negotiating table.”

“It is concerning that just as Arab states are moving closer to Israel and normalising relations, this announcement moves Australia in the opposite direction. The announcement will be used by Israeli and Palestinian hardliners to bolster support within their respective constituencies and put a peace agreement further out of reach.”

“The Labor leadership ought to push back against factions within Labor, and instead work to re-establish a sensible, centrist and sustainable bipartisan position on the Israeli–Palestinian conflict. The Israeli–Palestinian conflict must not become a political football”.