PSN calls for investigation into NZ govt policy on Palestine/Israel

7 Jun

PSN spokesperson, John Minto [File photo]

Palestine Solidarity Network (NZ), Media release, 5 June 2019

On Thursday next week (13th June) the Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade Select Committee will be discussing a request for it to hold an investigation into the government’s policy on Palestine/Israel. 

Palestine Solidarity Network has made the request as we are very concerned about the government’s stride to the right in support of Israel. (Below is pasted a copy of a letter received from Winston Peters a couple of weeks back and the response I sent last Friday).

This issue should be central to the New Zealand parliament’s concern for human rights internationally because it has gone on for 71 years as a festering sore. The 1948 “Nakba” continues as a daily experience for Palestinians. 

South Africa’s Archbishop Desmond Tutu – there is no better international expert on apartheid – has declared Israeli policies to be apartheid policies and says Palestinians face an even more brutal regime than black South Africans faced under apartheid in South Africa.

Like Archbishop Tutu, New Zealand should be supporting BDS (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions) against Israel to bring non-violent international pressure on the regime.

We have written to all MPs requesting they support the call for the investigation as a matter of urgency.

John Minto for the Palestine Solidarity Network, Christchurch

[Ed: See below for PSN’s recent correspondence with Winston Peters on this issue]

Palestine Solidarity Network letter to Minister of Foreign Affairs, Rt Hon Winston Peters, 31 May 2019

Winston Peters

Minister of Foreign Affairs

w.peters@ministers.govt.nz

Kia ora Mr Peters,

Renewed request to meet

Thank you for your letter of 24 May.

It is deeply disappointing to find the New Zealand government policy on the Middle East remains frozen in time 71 years after the Palestinian Nakba. It is a policy which adheres to US/Israel priorities but is unrelated to reality and is simply a recipe for the ongoing brutal oppression of Palestinians. 

It leaves New Zealand on the wrong side of history. It is not acceptable.

The so-called “two-state solution” you espouse has been undermined by Israel to the point where it would be impossible to implement in any meaningful way. The land which could possibly have formed a Palestinian state has been stolen for Jewish-only settlements and the remaining fragments have been separated by Jewish-only roads. The two-state solution is dead.

Thank you for pointing out the government’s opposition to Israeli settlements but these are already illegal under international law and in defiance of United Nations resolutions. 

It’s very difficult to take seriously your government being “deeply concerned about the significant numbers of civilian deaths and casualties in Gaza, particularly children and health workers” when the government has been silent when unarmed Palestinian children have been murdered by Israeli snipers – in plain sight – for daring to oppose the ruthless oppression they face every day.

In the context of Israel/Palestine it is offensive to ask Palestinians to exercise restraint. They are under military occupation. Would your government have asked the French resistance to exercise restraint in their fight against Nazi occupation of France in the 1940s?

We are all familiar with your much-repeated statement “while accepting Israel’s fundamental right to maintain its security, particularly in the face of provocation, any actions need to be proportionate.”

Why do Palestinians not have the same right to security? 

The provocation you refer to is the firing of rockets into Israel from Gaza but you ignore the primary, massive provocation – the occupation of Palestinian land by a brutal, overwhelming military power which every day steals more Palestinian land, bulldozes Palestinian homes, murders Palestinian children and spreads the vilest of propaganda which attempts to erase Palestine and Palestinian existence.

Why does the government not demand the immense provocations of the Israeli military occupation of the West Bank and the siege of Gaza be ended?

Your final statement that the government is “committed to building a closer relationship with Israel and with the Palestinians” is surprising because the facts of New Zealand engagement in the Middle East tell a very different story. Your government has a strong, growing relationship with the state of Israel but no practical, meaningful relationship with the victims of its apartheid policies.

Your government has welcomed an Israeli embassy in Wellington; sent a New Zealand cabinet minister to meet the Israeli Prime Minister this year; supports a visa free scheme for young Israelis to travel to New Zealand; supports a film co-production agreement with Israel; supports an aviation agreement with Israel; supports increasing trade with Israel and shortly you intend to extend this by signing up to an innovation agreement with Israel. 

You are rewarding Israeli’s most appalling behaviour – illegal under international law and in defiance of UN resolutions – with greater contact and enhanced international credibility. In effect New Zealand is helping shield Israel’s most egregious behaviour.

Alongside this you have a pretend policy of engagement with Palestinians.  

Just in the last week your government’s reported intention to purchase military equipment from Israel sums up the reality of your policy priorities much better than the “diplomatic speak” in your letter which tries to imply an even-handed approach.

These issues are too important for New Zealand to leave here. We repeat our request for you to meet with a delegation from the Palestine Solidarity Network as soon as possible to discuss a positive way forward for New Zealand in relation to the Middle East.

We look forward to a positive and timely response.

Na,

John Minto for the Palestine Solidarity Network

 

 

Palestine Solidarity Network letter to Foreign Affairs Minister, Rt Hon Winston Peters, 9 May 2019

Winston Peters

Minister of Foreign Affairs

w.peters@ministers.govt.nz

Kia ora Mr Peters,

Possible innovation agreement between New Zealand and Israeli governments

On 30 April pro-Zionist lobbyist Mark Jennings wrote an opinion piece on the Newsroom website in which he says:

“The new relationship comes as New Zealand and Israeli governments look close to signing an innovation agreement which will formalise the developing relationship”

https://www.newsroom.co.nz/2019/04/30/559323/adding-some-scale-to-our-start-ups

We are appalled the government appears to be considering an even closer relationship with Israel despite the ongoing theft of Palestinian land, the ongoing brutal Israeli military occupation of the West Bank and the siege of Gaza while Israel continues to thumb its nose at international law and United Nations resolutions.

On top of this the recent, and ongoing, murders of young unarmed Palestinians by Israeli army snipers should surely rule out any such agreement as signalled by Mark Jennings.

We would welcome your assurance the New Zealand government will not sign up to any “innovation agreement” with the Israeli government. The Palestinian people deserve to have our support for the boycott of Israel rather than our implied support for racism and brutality as embodied in the policies and practices of Israel’s Netanyahu regime.

We look forward to hearing from you shortly.

Na,

John Minto for the Palestine Solidarity Network

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