Arab nations are threatening to block Australian agricultural products, as they believe the Aussie government is pro-Israel, local media reported last week.
Australian Attorney-General George Brandis has refused to call East Jerusalem “occupied” and this has angered 20 ambassadors representing Islamic countries who wanted a meeting with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade on Thursday.
Some Middle East states are expected to demand a ban of Australian wheat and meat imports when the Arab League meets in Cairo this month, the West Australian reported.
More than 3.5 billion Australian dollars (3.29 billion U.S. dollars) in agricultural exports could be at risk.
Last week Brandis refused to say whether the government recognized East Jerusalem as “occupied” by Israel. Instead, he said the term had “pejorative implications” that were “neither appropriate nor useful”.
Most countries, including the United States, recognize East Jerusalem as occupied by Israel under international law. East Jerusalem fell under Israeli control after the 1967 war.
Islamic countries believe the change in language is part of a shift by the Abbott government to give greater support to Israel.
Asked why the government had changed its policy, Prime Minister Tony Abbott said, “The truth is they are disputed territories and let’s try to ensure that disputes are resolved fairly to all as best we can in an imperfect world.”