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Bishop rebuked over envoy's East Jerusalem visit

Stinging: Chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erakat did not mince words in his letter.

Stinging: Chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erakat did not mince words in his letter. Photo: AFP

The chief Palestinian negotiator has delivered a stinging rebuke to Australia for possible ''complicity in ongoing Israeli violations'' of international law, after the Australian ambassador met a senior Israeli minister in East Jerusalem.

Saeb Erakat, head of the Palestinian Liberation Organisation's negotiation arm, has warned Foreign Minister Julie Bishop that the meeting may be deemed as ''aiding and abetting … illegal Israeli policies''.

In a terse letter, Dr Erakat lambastes a meeting on Tuesday between Dave Sharma, Australia's ambassador to Israel, and Israel's Housing and Construction Minister Uri Ariel.

Foreign Affairs Minister Julie Bishop.

Foreign Affairs Minister Julie Bishop. Photo: Alex Ellinghausen

The meeting took place in Mr Ariel's office in East Jerusalem - the area claimed as the capital of Palestine but occupied by Israel.

''It should be noted that diplomatic recognition of the situation created by the attempted annexation of our capital is a flagrant violation of international law,'' Dr Erakat wrote.

The letter - obtained by Israeli newspaper Haaretz - was delivered to Australian officials in Ramallah after Mr Ariel's staff issued a news release pointing out the talks took place inside a government compound in East Jerusalem.

A photograph of the meeting with Mr Sharma was also released by Mr Ariel's staff. Reports of the meeting subsequently appeared in Israeli media and online.

According to the Haaretz report: ''Palestinian officials, who heard in the media about the meeting, boiled with anger.''

Dr Erakat did not mince words in his letter to Ms Bishop.

''Australia's ambassador to Israel meeting with Israeli officials in East Jerusalem has the effect of attempting to legitimize the illegal situation on the ground and may be deemed as aiding, abetting or otherwise assisting illegal Israeli policies,'' he wrote.

''As such, Australia's actions are tantamount to complicity in ongoing Israeli violations of international laws of war.''

Haaretz reported few diplomats would attend official meetings with Israeli politicians in that part of the city - although this was disputed by others who claimed meetings were common but rarely publicised.

Ms Bishop was criticised in January following a visit to Israel and in an interview with local media cast doubt Israeli settlements inside occupied territories were illegal under international law.

A spokeswoman for the Foreign Affairs Department confirmed that Mr Sharma met with Mr Ariel in his office in East Jerusalem.

''The status of Jerusalem is one of the core issues to be resolved through direct negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians towards a two-state solution, and this meeting does not alter Australia's position on those negotiations,'' the spokeswoman said.

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