Open reply to Murray McCully – Palestine Human Rights Campaign NZ



Dear Mr McCully,

Thank you for your reply of 16 October to our emails concerning the Women’s Boat to Gaza.

You say in your response that:

“New Zealand pursues a balanced and constructive approach to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. New Zealand supports a negotiated two-state solution, with Israel and a Palestinian state existing side by side, in peace and security.”

While Israel continues to blockade Gaza and rule the West Bank and East Jerusalem with implacable brutality, New Zealand insists that the Palestinians must negotiate directly with the Zionist regime, as if they were equal parties. Palestine is seeking full UN membership but, as you must know, in the absence of an Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement the US would almost certainly veto a resolution calling for full UN membership for Palestine. Israel, therefore, plainly has every incentive to avoid signing any so-called peace agreement. Human rights are non-negotiable and the call for talks evades the principle that violations of international law must never be circumvented or given validity. On 29 November 2015, Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu declared that there are no plans to deliver any land from West Bank Area C to Palestinians. In a meeting for Likud Ministers, he stressed that there will be no transfer of land to the Palestinian Authority, “not 40 thousand dunams, not 10 thousand, not one metre.” What dort of basis for negotiation is that? According to the Times of Israel, the President of the Zionist Federation of Australia, Danny Lamm, told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency: “The New Zealand Foreign Minister is unfortunately misguided and in his attempt to promote peace has [passed off] blame on Israel when in fact there is no peace for one reason only: Israel’s enemies don’t want peace.” The urgent need for peace, human rights and international law all require that Israel immediately begin the process of ending its belligerent military Occupation of the West Bank and East Jerusalem, as well as the blockade of Gaza.

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In a speech on28 September 2015, the New Zealand Minister of Defence, Gerry Brownlee, made the following observations of principle:

1. “New Zealand’s approach to security, and particularly maritime security, is anchored in strong support for international laws of the sea.”

2. “A rules based system is particularly important for ensuring continued freedom of navigation and collective maritime security.”

It is time to live up to these claims. The New Zealand Government must know that Israel does not have a very good record in regard to international maritime law. For example, in 1967 Israeli forces deliberately attacked a vessel they knew to be the American intelligence-gatheringship USS Liberty. At that time, Israel had been about to invade the Golan Heights but postponed the manoeuvre for 24 hours until it had disabled the US Navy vessel. The attack on USS Liberty killed 34 crew members, wounded 171 and severely damaged the vessel. The attack took place in international waters and involved Israeli Air Force jet fighter aircraft and Israeli Navy motor torpedo boats. The US Government went to enormous lengths to cover up the true enormity of the attack and the crew felt betrayed. An on line video is available that includes the real-time conversations between Israeli Air Force pilots and their controllers.

That attack on USS Liberty illustrates most clearly that Israel has scant regard for international law but the New Zealand Government has chosen to side with Israel and support Israeli Navy hijacking over the rights to lawful passage in international waters. Mr McCully, you end your email with the following observation: “All New Zealanders are subject to local immigration laws and regulations overseas and being a New Zealand citizen does not lead to any special treatment. The New Zealand Government cannot intervene in the judicial processes of another country.”

What possible relevance can Israel’s judicial processes have regarding the right to free passage in international waters and the Palestinian people’s right to welcome friendly visitors? Israel does not own international waters and the Gaza Strip is not in Israel.

The UN Security Council has stood passively by and allowed Israel to turn the Gaza Strip into the largest concentration camp in history while subjecting the people of the West Bank and East Jerusalem to brutal military oppression. The Palestinian people are in desperate need and they look to us and the rest of the world to bring Israel to account. By choosing to condone and support the armed hijacking of the peaceful Women’s Boat to Gaza in international waters, the New Zealand Government has shamed our country, betrayed humanity and sadly undermined the principles of international law.

Yours sincerely,

Leslie Bravery

Palestine Human Rights Campaign Aotearoa/New Zealand


  1. Bravery is confused. This article is about the current Gaza Blockade yet the writer cites the 1967 US Liberty incident as evidence of the 2016 blockade’s legality. Huh?

    Geoff Palmer’s UN sanctioned report unequivocally confirmed that the Gaza blockade is legal.

    Gaza can only be called a concentration camp if the context of events which brought it about is ignored.

    It is Hamas’ policy of promoting violence as its primary means of resolving the Middle Eastern Conflict that has created the blockade and caused its constituents much loss and hardship.

    Hamas is a manifestation of racial and religious intolerance. Until these attitudes change, peaceful coexistence is a remote possibility.

    Bravery emulates Donald Trump in creating a narrative that boldly disregards reality when Bravery claims that Israel has no desire for peace.

    Ehud Barak offered over 90% of Yasser Arafat’s demands yet he turned it down. Who enters a negotiation, with a genuine desire to reach an agreement, turns down a deal like that? No one. Unless there was no genuine desire in the first place.

    Ariel Sharon, the Israeli leader with a hawkish reputation, took great political risks in ordering a unilateral withdrawal from Gaza, to see if trading land for peace could work.

    The withdrawal resulted in a sustained barrage of rockets on Israeli civilian communities, which aren’t even located on disputed territory. Unless in Arab eyes, all of Israel is disputed territory.

    There is much evidence to support this sentiment. Apart from the daily rhetoric on Palestinian TV and radio, even geography textbooks show the Palestinian borders encompassing all of what constitutes the modern state of Israel.

    Herein lies the real root of the Middle Eastern Conflict.

    • Tony, I see you’re keen to invoke the “legalities” of Palmer’s “UN sanctioned report” – whilst ignoring the illegality of Israel’s settlements on occupied West Bank.

      You invoke legal niceties when it suits you – but ignore UN Security Council Resolution 799 which called on Israel to cease deportation of Palestinians from Occupied Territories.


      And do you support UN Resolution 242 which called for Israeli withdrawal of land seized in the 1967 conflict and guaranteeing freedom of navigation through international waterways in the area?


      Or are you selective in what you refer to for legal justification of Israel’s expansionist policies and naked aggression against a defenceless neighbour?

      Because really, Tony, you do yourself no favours with your selective morality and picking legalities when it suits you.

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