Could deal see New Zealand fund Israeli occupation?

16 Oct

NZ Innovation Minister Paul Goldsmith confirmed NZ officials were in talks with Israel about an agreement “facilitating research and development cooperation” between the two countries. [Photo: Hagen Hopkins/Getty Images]

Media statement from NZ Palestine Solidarity Network 15 October 2017: New Zealand might fund Israeli occupation.

Innovation Minister Paul Goldsmith confirmed NZ officials were in talks with Israel about an agreement “facilitating research and development cooperation” between the two countries [6 October 2017 https://www.stuff.co.nz/business/innovation/97580312/Nz-israeli-officials-negotiate-innovation-funding-agreement%5D.

Israel may use New Zealand taxpayer money to fund its illegal activities in the Palestinian Occupied Territories, according to the New Zealand Palestine Solidarity Network.

The Palestine Solidarity Network says the terms of the agreement open the way for New Zealand government grants to fund Israeli companies in joint ventures with New Zealand companies.

Spokesperson Debbie Abbas says much of Israeli technology is poured into sophisticated methods of surveillance and population control of Palestinians. “It follows that it is reasonable to assume New Zealand government grants can find their way to be spent on the violent suppression of the Palestinian population under occupation and in Israel.”

“There should be no deal at all with Israel. Most of the rest of the world is putting pressure on Israel to conform to international law and we have a moral obligation to follow.”

“In 2012, our Super Fund withdrew from some investments in Israeli companies for this very reason,” Debbie Abbas states. “But now in New Zealand we are backing off from the international legal consensus of making Israel accountable for it’s actions against Palestinian civilians. Instead New Zealand is moving towards doing deals such as the technology innovation agreement that would see technology firms from both countries fast tracked to receive funding from their respective government grants agencies. This is in addition to another last year on joint funding of film production.”

“We asked detailed questions about the film production agreement with Israel. Our government has refused to answer any of them.”

“For instance we asked if the agreement might result in complicity in making propaganda films for the Israeli government and what had our government put in the agreement to prevent discrimination against Palestinians in Israeli film production employment.”

Debbie Abbas says the government refused to provide a copy of the agreement and stated there were no human rights implications to consider.

“Not surprisingly, we are very suspicious of where this technology agreement may lead New Zealand. Israel goes into these bilateral deals for political reasons, to make it appear there is business as usual and divert attention away from Israel’s apartheid structure. It’s a strategy not dissimilar to apartheid era South Africa when it used international sport to divert attention away from its repression of the black majority in South Africa.”

“But underneath this political veneer of propaganda there remains a strong suspicion that New Zealand is being drawn into a physical and technological role in supporting the occupation.”

The abuse of human rights in Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories means New Zealand should not sign any innovation agreement with Israel.

The Palestine Solidarity Network says Israel has a strategy of bilateral deals to divert international attention away from the way it treats Palestinians that are designed to make Israel appear like a normal and acceptable state.

Spokesperson Debbie Abbas says the news that a technology sharing agreement between Israel and New Zealand is imminent, should be seen in the context of the present government backing off acknowledging the occupied status of the West Bank and East Jerusalem.

This is viewed as a continuance and extension of the agreement New Zealand signed last year on the co-production of movies that was met with similar disbelief and disappointment by New Zealand Palestine Solidarity Network, human rights advocates and their supporters.

One Response to “Could deal see New Zealand fund Israeli occupation?”

  1. A. Talamas October 17, 2017 at 11:11 am #

    Shame on New Zealand.

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