Iran 'Outraged' at Australia over 'Occupation'

Iran summons Australian Ambassador to chew him out over removal of 'occupied Jerusalem' terminology, told nothing changed.

Ari Yashar ,

Iran's Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif
Iran's Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif

Iran summoned the Australian Ambassador to Tehran for a dressing down over the decision three weeks ago by Australian Attorney-General George Brandis to stop calling Jerusalem "occupied."

Iran's IRNA (Islamic Republic News Agency) reported on Monday that Australian Ambassador to Iran Paul Foley came in for "outrage" from Iranian Foreign Ministry Director General of the Middle East and North African Department Reza Ameri.

Ameri condemned the change in lexicon, saying by removing the word "occupied," Australia is "ignoring the occupation of Holy Qods," a reference to the Muslim name for the 3,000-year-old Jewish capital of Jerusalem.

In response, Foley said he would relay the protest to his government, and stressed that the change in terms was "ceremonial and separate from the policy of the Australian government."

Foley also referred to Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop's meeting with Arab and Islamic ambassadors last Thursday, in which she reassured them that there was no "policy change" despite the removal of the term "occupied."

The meeting "satisfied" the Palestinian Authority (PA) representative, who noted Bishop said repeatedly in the meeting the Jerusalem is "occupied."

Bishop's diplomatic acrobatics came after the PA's representative in Australia reacted furiously to the dropping of "occupied," and threatened to organize international trade sanctions over the move. Indeed, soon after, eighteen diplomats from countries including Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Indonesia protested and warned of possible trade sanctions in response.

Australia's export trade with the Middle East accounts for billions of dollars annually, particularly in wheat and meat.  

Jordan apparently beat Iran to the punch by summoning Australia's charge d'affaires, John Feakes, for a dressing down soon after the "occupation" terminology was dropped.

It should be noted that under international law, Israel's presence over the 1949 Armistice lines has never been declared as illegal. Indeed, the 2012 Levy report revealed that Israel's presence in the area is perfectly legal according to international law, and does not have the status of "occupied territories."