Australia has announced that it no longer will refer to East Jerusalem as “occupied” territory.

This is an enormous and important contribution to Middle East peace, as it corrects the false narrative that Israel’s recapturing of territory illegally occupied by Jordan from 1948-1967 is not justifiably part of Israel.

For the historical and legal background of why Israel’s recapture of East Jerusalem and other territories is not illegal under international law, see Prof. Eugene Kontorovich’s recent article at Commentary Magazine, Crimea, International Law, and the West Bank, as well as his lecture, The Legal Case for Israel.

The Times of Israel reports, Australia drops ‘occupied’ label from East Jerusalem:

The Australian government will not refer to East Jerusalem as “occupied, territory” the government said in a statement on Thursday, in what one legislator called a “massive shift” in foreign policy

Attorney General George Brandis explained Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop’s position that using the word “occupied” was judgmental and does not contribute to the dialogue about the contested area, the Australian Associated Press reported.

The move came, in part, as an Australian reaction to the verbal abuse Palestinians heap on anyone who supports Israel (been to a campus lately?):

Australia’s decision to stop referring to East Jerusalem as “occupied” territory and to adopt additional similar steps that will likely please Israel and anger the Palestinians came as a retaliatory measure against Palestinian officials who in recent months repeatedly and ferociously attacked Canberra’s Middle East policies in public, The Times of Israel has learned

“The Australian government is irritated by how the Palestinians have chosen to pursue their disagreements with us in public,” a senior Australian source told The Times of Israel Thursday. “This is the kind of behavior you’d expect from the leaders of a student union but not from a government-in-waiting.”

As expected, the Palestinians heaped even more abuse on the Australians:

senior Palestinian official said Thursday evening that it was “absolutely disgraceful and shocking” that Australia would no longer use the term “occupied” territory in reference to East Jerusalem, a shift announced by Canberra earlier the same day

“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… 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,” PLO Executive Committee member and veteran politician Hanan Ashrawi said.

So why has the Australian announcement advance peace, if it has angered the Palestinians?

Because the history of Middle East peace negotiations is the refusal to speak the truth to the Palestinians, and instead, to cower at false claims of illegal occupation and Apartheid. Such diplomatic cowering, evidenced by John Kerry’s futile shuttle diplomacy, simply encourages even more unreasonable and unrealistic Palestinian demands.

If peace ever is to be achieved, it will be when the Palestinians accept that they can get no more from international boycotts and pressure than they can get through direct negotiations and meaningful concessions. The Australian announcement brought that moment a little closer.

The U.S. finally moving our Embassy to Jerusalem would move the peace process even closer still.