New Zealand folds and apologises to Israel

14 Jun

Opinion: by mickysavage contributer to NZ blogsite: The Standard, 14 June 2017 

New Zealand folds and apologises to Israel

National has surrendered its former principled position concerning the illegality of Israel’s occupation of Palestinian land.  It has now apologised to Israel for causing offence for sponsoring a UN resolution condemning the continued Israeli illegal occupation of Palestinian land.  Israel has in response resumed diplomatic relations.

From Radio New Zealand:

New Zealand and Israel have reportedly agreed to restore diplomatic ties, ending a six month political crisis between the two countries.

Israel recalled its ambassador in December after New Zealand co-sponsored a UN Security Council resolution condemning Israel’s continued settlements. Israel condemned the resolution as a “victory for terror”.

The Jerusalem Post has reported Prime Minister Bill English wrote a letter saying that he regretted “the damage done to Israel-New Zealand relations as a result of New Zealand proposing Resolution 2334 at the Security Council”.

The language is all important.  For New Zealand to be the one apologising is significant and also a travesty of its former principled position.

And it is not as if New Zealand was out on its own.  Pretty well the rest of the world not to mention almost all of the Security Council supported the resolution.  And the United States under Barack Obama’s direction abstained allowing the resolution to proceed.

The initial Israeli response was barking mad.  Benjamin Netanyahu accused New Zealand of committing a declaration of war.  Funny that.  Declarations of war normally involve doing things like illegally occupying the land of another nation.  Getting a resolution passed by the Security is in my experience not normally considered to be a declaration of war.

The Jerusalem Post’s chief political correspondent Gil Hoffman was interviewed.  My tourettes kicked in as I listened to him.  He could see no wrong with how Israel was treating Palestine and thought the peace process had to respect Israel’s occupation of Palestinian land.  If only the rest of the world accepted that Israel’s unilateral annexation of Palestinian land and the dispossession of Palestinian families from their homes was a reasonable thing to do …

Gerry Brownlee was interviewed and asked if an apology had been offered.  He did not answer.  He was asked if the resolution was still supported.  More obfuscation occurred.  Clearly the apology is a back down even though Brownlee refused to acknowledge this.

The part of the interview that really rankled was when he was asked if he thought the Israeli occupation of Palestinian land was illegal he said this:

What we said is that the settlement issue is one that the parties that are in dispute need to sort out among themselves and we will do what we can to assist in that process.  In the end it is something for them to determine.

How weak.  What a cop out.  Clearly in Brownlee’s view there is no need for the United Nations.  All that has to happen is for Israel and Palestine to sort it out themselves.  Given the power imbalance and Israel’s belligerence how this would end up is predictable.

The apology makes a mockery of National’s and Murray McCully’s previously principled position which resulted in something quite unusual, praise from the Standard for McCully’s stance.

And the reversal was noted in this recent post although I thought this was evidence of messiness rather than an abject surrender.

It appears that New Zealand has surrendered to American and Australian pressure and retreated from its previous principled stance.  How predictable.

For a brief moment of time there was hope that New Zealand would have a proud independent foreign policy stance that would shine like a beacon in this world of cynical undermining of the rule of law and the United Nations all in the name of power.  Looks like the moment is up.

 

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