Australian Officials Decry ‘Occupied’ Designation for East Jerusalem

Illustrative. Israel supporters at a rally in the US. By Joshua SpurlockJust days before the 47th anniversary of Israel’s retaking of Biblical Jerusalem, key Australian government figures inched closer to admitting Israel has a legitimate claim to the city of King David. The Sydney Morning Herald reported that Aussie Attorney General George Brandis released a statement with support from Foreign Minister Julie Bishop that decried the way the eastern Jerusalem region is often described.

“’The description of East Jerusalem as ‘Occupied East Jerusalem’ is a term freighted with pejorative implications, which is neither appropriate nor useful,” said Brandis, who noted that the area is still up for negotiation between Israel and the Palestinians. While that’s not quite the way the Bible refers to Israel’s capital city, it’s closer than most.

The Sydney Morning Herald reported that Brandis issued the statement, in which he also noted Australia’s support for Palestinian statehood, after he objected to the use of the phrase “occupied East Jerusalem” during a government debate.

Israel officially reclaimed the Old City of Jerusalem and its environs almost two thousand years after Rome took it from them on June 7, 1967. The close-at-hand anniversary wasn’t missed by a Palestinian official, who slammed the Australian comments in a report by the Ma’an News Agency.

What the Palestinian left out, however, is that Israel didn’t take East Jerusalem from the Palestinians. They took from Jordan, who illegally occupied the city for almost two decades.

In 1967, faced with another impending war against the Egypt-Jordan-Syria alliance, Israel chose to launch a pre-emptive strike and ultimately won what become known as the “Six Day War.”

East Jerusalem, so-called because it is claimed by the Palestinians, is home to some of the oldest and holiest of the Jewish historical sites. Included among those are the ancient City of David, the Western Wall, and the Temple Mount—where two Jewish Temples once stood hundreds of years before Islam even became a religion.

The Sydney Morning Herald reported that Brandis called it “unhelpful” to drag up the history of Israel’s taking of East Jerusalem now. Ironically, however, it is history that most supports Brandis’ refusal to call any part of Jerusalem “occupied.” And he’s right—because it isn’t.

At least, not since June 7, 1967.

(By Joshua Spurlock,, June 5, 2014)

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