The announcement follows last year’s reversal of its controversial recognition of West Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.
Qatar has welcomed Australia’s announced intention to revive the term “Occupied Palestinian Territories” on Friday, describing it as a “positive position” that reflects Canberra’s commitment to international law.
“Qatar welcomes the announcement by the Australian Foreign Minister of the intention of its government to reinstate the term ‘Occupied Palestinian territories, including East Jerusalem,’ and to deem the Israeli settlements illegal, according to international law,” the Gulf state’s foreign ministry said in a statement.
The statement added that it “considers the announcement a positive position reflecting the commitment of the Australian government to international law and resolutions of international legitimacy.”
“At the same time, this announcement promotes all efforts aimed at achieving a just, comprehensive and sustainable peace, based on the principle of the two-state solution,” the Gulf state noted, renewing its support for the Palestinian cause and establishment of an independent state under the 1967 borders.
Australia’s foreign ministry had announced its decision last week in a move that Foreign Minister Penny Wong said “is consistent with UN Security Council resolutions” and the approach taken by the United Kingdom, New Zealand, and the European Union.
Since 2014, most Australian diplomats have refrained from using the term when referring to occupied Palestinian territories, deemed as illegal by international law.
“This is a term which has been used, including on past occasions by past foreign ministers and past governments, that is consistent with much of the nomenclature that is used within the UN context and is used, as I said, by key partners including the United Kingdom, New Zealand and the European Union,” she told parliament.
The top Australian official added: “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.”
Acknowledgment of the illegality of settlements
Meanwhile, Wong said she is also looking to solidify her government’s stance against settlements “by affirming that they are illegal under international law and a significant obstacle to peace.”
Australia had received similar praise last year from the international community, including Qatar, following its announcement to reversal of its controversial recognition of West Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.
Qatar’s foreign ministry said at the time that Australia’s decision “would support international efforts aimed at achieving a just, comprehensive and sustainable peace”.
In 2018, Australia’s then-Prime Minister Scott Morrison recognised West Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, though he fell short of establishing Canberra’s embassy on the illegally occupied land.
The move came a year after former US President Donald Trump named Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and established the embassy there, a move that was widely condemned as provocative at the time.
However, Wong said Canberra “will always be a steadfast friend of Israel” and maintains its commitment to a two-state solution.
Israel considers the entirety of Jerusalem as its capital following its illegal annexation of the eastern part in the 1967 war, also known as the “Six Day War”. In those six days, the occupying state captured the majority of Palestine and forcibly displaced at least 300,000 Palestinians in what has now become known as the Naksa, or ‘setback’.
Marking the 75th anniversary of the Nakba, or ‘catastrophe’ in May, Qatar’s Amir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani stressed that the “catastrophic effects” of the mass expulsion of Palestinians in 1948 have continued.
“The catastrophic effects of the Nakba continue to this day, and millions of Palestinians suffer from it, including refugees, who still cling to their right to return to their country from which they were unjustly expelled,” Sheikh Tamim said in his message before the UN.