The Israel Institute of New Zealand, in an article entitled Post Election outlook for New Zealand’s relationship with Israel, noted with pleasure that Winston Peters was now in the position of ‘king maker’. The article considered it was likely that a number of long-time National supporters had voted for Peters in this election because of his support for Israel. The Israel Institute hoped to see what it called clearer leadership on Israel if Bill English were to be in a position to form a government with support from Winston Peters. The Israel Institute’s New Zealand co-director Paul Moon was quoted as follows: Whichever party is put into power, the almost inevitable alliance with New Zealand First presents an opportunity for New Zealand to recalibrate its relations with Israel. Effectively, the government could draw a line under its disastrous sponsorship of UN Resolution 2334, and look to strengthen its ties with Israel.
Never mind the fact that Resolution 2334, incontrovertibly, brands Israel’s actions as being in violation of international humanitarian law and relevant resolutions. The Israel Institute regards the Resolution as disastrous because it exposes Israel’s violations of international humanitarian law. Even Israel’s most ardent ally, the United States of America, felt unable to vote against the Resolution, which confirms the fact that Israel’s behaviour has no legal validity.
The imposition of Israeli settlements on belligerently-Occupied Palestinian land constitutes a war crime under the provisions of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court. Israel’s settlement programme violates international law and a number of conventions, including United Nations Security Resolutions 446 (1979), 452 (1979), 465 (1980), and, most recently, 2334 (2016). Israel is intent upon using its extremist settlers to superimpose its Zionist rule over the whole of historic Palestine. Statements and actions by Israel’s leaders demonstrate clearly that they are bent on both the annexation of the whole of Jerusalem and irreversible destruction of Palestine’s territorial contiguity.
NZ First’s foreign-affairs and trade policy opposes the previous government’s sponsorship of United Nations Security Council Resolution 2334. NZ First’s website claims that the party promotes diplomacy as the first option in resolving international conflict. Yet it opposes the National-led Government’s sponsorship of UNSC2334. Considering that the Security Council Resolution quite rightly condemns Israel’s inhumane, armed violations of international law, New Zealand First needs to explain where the diplomacy might be in opposing a Resolution against such violence. This is a Resolution, after all, that passed without a single vote against. Will Labour and the Greens tolerate any attempt by New Zealand First to soften the pressure brought upon Israel through the adoption of UNSCR 2334?
Israel, the only Western state supplying weapons to Myanmar
Last month, the Zionist state’s lawyer, Shosh Shmueli, responding to a petition in the High Court of Justice from human rights activists demanding an end to the arms sales to Myanmar, told Israel’s High Court that it shouldn’t interfere in the country’s foreign relations. An earlier statement by the Israeli Defence Ministry, in March, had referred to the matter as purely diplomatic. The violence against the Rohingya has intensified and, in the past month, some 421,000 members of the Muslim minority have been forced to flee to neighbouring Bangladesh. The UN has also raised allegations of ethnic cleansing. Eitay Mack, the petitioners’ lawyer, noted that the European Union and the United States had imposed a trade embargo on Myanmar, formerly known as Burma. The junta’s leaders are boasting of their ties with Israel, the world’s most militarised nation, on their Facebook pages and the top US diplomat for refugees and migration, Simon Henshaw, has called on Suu Kyi to take action to protect the Rohingya. As annual UN General Assembly meetings continued, he expressed concern about reports of attacks, extrajudicial murders, rapes, burning of villages. Now Israel, the only country to have introduced nuclear weapons to the Middle East, plans to leave UNESCO.
True to its founding objectives, this month the UNESCO Director-General welcomed the awarding of the 2017 Nobel Peace Prize to ICAN, the International Campaign for the Abolition of Nuclear Weapons. It is a resounding call to global responsibility and a stronger diplomacy for peace, she declared. This, of course, is anathema to Israel, which refuses to sign the treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons. Neither will Israel co-operate with the IAEA. For Israel, the United Nations is nothing but a hindrance to its ambitions. Thirty-seven countries founded the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation – UNESCO. New Zealand signed up to the Constitution of UNESCO, on 16 November 1945, which came into force on 4 November 1946. The world was seeking to create an organisation that would embody a genuine culture of peace. There was belief in the need to establish an organisation that would further the intellectual and moral solidarity of mankind in order to prevent the outbreak of yet another world war.
UNESCO and education
UNESCO is responsible for co-ordinating, among other things, international co-operation in education so that each child and citizen has access to good quality education; a basic human right and an indispensable prerequisite for sustainable development. Israel has a dismal record of disrupting education for Palestinians, both within Israel and in the Occupied territories. On 27 September, Israeli forces closed the tunnel created to control movement between 16 towns and villages in north-west Jerusalem. The move disrupted study for more than 4,000 students in some 50 schools. On 7 October, the Israeli Army raided the Abu Nour Al-Badawi Bedouin Community in al-Eizariya and broke into a school under construction that was intended for the education of 58 children. Israeli troops then robbed the site of construction equipment in order to prevent the school being built. There have been many complaints from European Union member states over the destruction by Israel of donated schools and educational facilities.
Post-election – moral responsibilities remain
New Zealand’s Palestine Solidarity Network is concerned that Israel may use our taxpayer money to fund its illegal Occupation. The New Zealand and Israeli governments may sign an innovation agreement that would see technology firms from both countries fast-tracked to receive funding from their respective government grants agencies. Far from bringing Israel to account for its violations of international law, outlined in UNSC Resolution 2334, the agreement would reward Israel, with both New Zealand and Israel jointly funding companies and universities in both countries, sharing research and information and engaging in joint ventures.
Palestine Solidarity Network spokesperson, Debbie Abbas, reminds us that in 2012, our SuperFund withdrew from some investments in Israeli companies because of Israel’s behaviour but now . . . we are backing off from the international legal consensus of making Israel accountable for its actions against Palestinian civilians, she says, adding that our Government has refused to provide a copy of a film production agreement made last year with Israel. She noted that 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.
Last June, Israel hosted an ISDEF military exhibition it claims is recognised as the summit of business and defence enterprises that are, for Israel, a top national priority. Israel is looking for military solidarity because, it claims, the strategic realities that Israel faces dictate the need for close co-operation, communication and innovation. Yet, as ISDEF’s mission statement also says, 86% of attendees have buying power making ISDEF a highly effective platform for rapid business growth. That is where wealth is directed, and that is how modern science and technology are being harnessed. Israel leads the world in population-control for profit and it would be nothing less than complicity if New Zealand were to ignore Israel’s intransigence regarding UNSC Resolution 2334 and take part in joint ventures.
On 4 January 2017, the New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs & Trade (MFAT) website carried the following announcement that began:
UN Security Council adopts historic resolution on Israeli settlements
The United Nations Security Council has reaffirmed that the establishment by Israel of settlements in the occupied Palestinian territory, has no legal validity and constitutes a flagrant violation under international law and a major obstacle to the achievement of the two-State solution and a just, lasting and comprehensive peace. In passing Resolution 2334, the Security Council reiterated its demand that Israel immediately and completely cease all settlement activities in the occupied Palestinian territory, including East Jerusalem, and that it fully respect all of its legal obligations in this regard.
The announcement ended with a comment by New Zealand’s Permanent Representative, Gerard van Bohemen:
every settlement creates false hope for the settlers that the land will one day be part of a greater Israel. Every settlement takes land away from Palestinians needing homes or farmland or roads.
In anger at the UN Security Council approval of Resolution 2334, the Israeli Foreign Ministry has announced a determination to withhold US$6m from payments due to the United Nations.
In 1967, Theodor Meron, the Israeli Government’s chief legal adviser at the time, warned his government that, according to international law, a nation may not settle its citizens on land that it has gained by conquest to usurp the rights of the original residents.
The world’s most intractable conflict
The Balfour Declaration, the origin of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, has had many tragic consequences. The greatly increased support for the Zionist ideology led to the creation of Mandatory Palestine, which later became Israel and the Palestinian territories. The British Government’s lack of consideration for the indigenous Palestinian people was uncompromisingly expressed in the following remarks made by Balfour himself: . . . in Palestine we do not propose even to go through the form of consulting the wishes of the present inhabitants of the country…. Zionism, be it right or wrong, good or bad, is rooted in age-long traditions, in present needs, in future hopes, of far profounder import than the desires and prejudices of the 700,000 Arabs who now inhabit that ancient land………. In short, so far as Palestine is concerned, the Powers have made no statement of fact which is not admittedly wrong, and no declaration of policy which, at least in the letter, they have not always intended to violate.
Questions for Winston Peters and the incoming government:
On 3 July this year, New Zealand MPs were sent an email that drew attention to Israel’s criminal behaviour towards Palestinian children. Does Winston Peters accept that these gross violations of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, ratified by New Zealand on 13 March 1993, are a matter for world community concern?
On Wednesday morning, 28 June, the Israeli Occupation Army raided Jubbet al-Dhib, plundering the village of 96 solar panels and destroying items that were less easy to remove. They had all been donated by the Netherlands. The New York Times reported that the Dutch Foreign Affairs Ministry was furious. But there was nothing extraordinary about Israel’s conduct. Israel had similarly plundered the village of a solar-powered public lighting system in 2009. The purpose of the Zionist state’s military Occupation of the West Bank is not for the benefit of the Palestinian people, quite the reverse – Israel’s presence there is plainly malevolent and self-serving. Does Winston Peters believe that collaborating with Israel, even as it continues to behave thus, would in any way help to modify its behaviour?
Jubbet al-Dhib lies in the shadow of two illegal Israeli settlement colonies, El David and Noqedim. The Noqedim settlement is home to Israeli Defence Minister, Avigdor Lieberman. On top of these oppressive settlements, Palestinian villagers have to cope with the fanatical presence of a number of additional Israeli colonial outposts that exist in violation of both Israeli and international law. Nevertheless, the outposts still enjoy connection to the Israeli power grid and access to other Occupation infrastructure. Israel demolished more than 300 Palestinian buildings and infrastructure facilities in 2016. According to The Jerusalem Post, all of them had been installed with the support of international organisations or with the financial help of the European Union. The Israeli Government’s decision to prevent the use of solar energy technology in Jubbet al-Dhib can have only one purpose, and that is to increase the villagers’ suffering so that they will give up and leave their homes, thus making it easier to expand settlements. Does Winston Peters believe that Israel has any respect for the Palestinian people? We ask Mr Peters to please explain whether he approves or disapproves of Israel’s present and past behaviour.
Security Council Resolution 2334 passed 14-0. Now clearly isolated, Israel’s response was far from promising. Israeli PM Netanyahu expressed fury over UNSC 2334, threatening that: If you continue to promote this resolution from our point of view it will be a declaration of war. It will rupture the relations and there will be consequences. Netanyahu believes he can afford to be scornful because UN Resolution 2334 has no sanctions with which to call Israel to account. The Israeli Government did believe it had the right to impose sanctions of a sort upon New Zealand though because, after relenting a little following the withdrawal of its ambassador, the Israeli Embassy said, until further notice no more sanctions would be imposed against New Zealand.
Sanctions apply pressure to countries that threaten peace, have harmful policies or don’t co-operate with international law.
MFAT also informs us that:
Sanctions are a common measure that the United Nations Security Council takes to enforce its decisions. As a UN member, New Zealand is bound to follow the Security Council’s decisions. The United Nations Act 1946 means our Government can respond quickly where necessary and impose or remove sanctions when the Security Council makes a decision. While we don’t have standalone legislation to impose our own sanctions independently of the Security Council, we can impose other sanctions such as travel bans on people entering our country. We ask Winston Peters, in view of Israel’s determination to defy the world community, is he willing to support moves to request the Security Council to impose sanctions upon Israel until it ceases to violate international humanitarian law? And would New Zealand First consider the imposition of travel bans upon Israeli individuals responsible for committing such crimes? If not, would he please explain why not.
Remember that MFAT also declares:
The protection of human rights is fundamental to achieving peace and stability, and New Zealand is known for its work to promote human rights internationally.
As the New Zealand First Leader will see, included among the sources for the information provided for these questions are The New York Times and Israeli newspapers Haaretz and The Jerusalem Post. This is reality, not opinion. Mr Peters, would you deny that requiring the Palestinian people to negotiate with Israel while, at the same time, they remain subject to belligerent, military Occupation, actually amounts to coercion? If you do not accept that observation we ask you to explain your reasoning in terms of the Fourth Geneva Convention.
The passing of UNSC Resolution 2334 is a timely reminder that the Israeli Occupation of Palestine lies at the epicentre of the growing Middle East crisis. The continuing failure to bring Israel to account puts at risk the very survival of international law, peace and stability. Given New Zealand First’s declared position regarding UNSC Resolution 2334, are Labour and the Greens prepared to oppose any attempt by Winston Peters and New Zealand First to reverse New Zealand Government support for international humanitarian law and Resolution 2334?