AU Export Boycott Looms Over 'Disputed' Territory

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By Athena Yenko | June 13, 2014 4:25 PM EST

Arabic and Islamic nations have threatened to boycott products from Australia after the government's decision to change calling the West bank from "occupied" to "disputed" territory.

The West Bank is currently being disputed by Israelis and Palestinians for decades. The Israelis preferred for West Bank to be referred to as "disputed territories," while Palestinians want to refer to it as "occupied."

Palestinian workers rake a pile of wood during the process of making charcoal for sale, in the West Bank village of Yabad near Jenin
Palestinian workers rake a pile of wood during the process of making charcoal for sale, in the West Bank village of Yabad near Jenin

Twenty ambassadors and high-ranking officials from nations, including Indonesia, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Pakistan expressed their objections in a meeting with Australia's Department of Foreign Affairs in Canberra.

"I'm afraid this will really cast a lot of shadows, negative shadows, over relations between Australia and the Arab world, and there will be a sort of negative consequences.  We need Australia to change this position again to be more compatible with international law and United Nations resolutions," Izzat Abdulhadi, head of the General Delegation of Palestine to Australia, told ABC.

Abdulhadi stressed the government's decision will affect trading between Australia and the Arabs.

"There are a lot of exports of meat to the Arab world and now also we're talking about the wheat. I think ... the interests of Australia is to work with the Arab world," Abdulhadi warned.

National Farmers' Federation President Brent Finlay saw the issue unfortunate as the Australia-Middle East trade relations had been ongoing smoothly through the years. Australian exports to Arab's 22 member states is worth approximately $3.5 billion, exports to Indonesia is now worth $4.7 billion.

 "We are very concerned about it and we are working closely with the agriculture minister. It is an unfortunate hiccup," Finlay said.

Agriculture Minister Barnaby Joyce refused to address the issue arguing his main responsibility is to ensure trading for agricultural products.

 "I will leave all that wondrous stuff on foreign affairs to those who are on a vastly better pay scale and smarter than I am. My job is to make sure we get product moving," Joyce said with sarcasm.

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(Photo: REUTERS / AMMAR AWAD)
Palestinian workers rake a pile of wood during the process of making charcoal for sale, in the West Bank village of Yabad near Jenin
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