Following email exchanges with the Prime Minister’s Office featured in the previous blog, which included an email sent to both Ron Mark and Jacinda Ardern, we have yet to receive any response from the Defence Minister. The Prime Minister’s Office has evaded answering questions in both our emails that relate to Foreign Policy and International Law, commenting that “As the issue you have raised falls within the portfolio responsibilities of the Minister of Defence, Hon Ron Mark, your email has been forwarded to the Minister’s office for information.”
On 20 August, another attempt to elicit a reply from Ron Mark was emailed to the Defence Ministry: “We ask you to kindly answer the questions raised in the email from us that was forwarded to you on 24 July from Jacinda Ardern’s Office. Please also respond to the follow-up email sent to both yourself and the Prime Minister on 1 August. There awaits mounting public interest in your responses.” This did, at least, prompt an immediate automatic reply from Ron Mark’s office but, of course, it contained nothing relevant to the questions asked. We have yet to receive any answer to these questions from either the Minister or his Office.
Last April, the Israeli Prime Minister publicly announced his determination to annex the Jewish settlements in the Occupied Palestinian West Bank. He also said he would prevent the establishment of a Palestinian state by “controlling the entire area”. Article 49(6) of the Fourth Geneva Convention, states: “The Occupying Power shall not deport or transfer parts of its own civilian population into the territory it occupies.” Most UN member states recognise that Israel’s militarily-imposed Israeli settlements are illegal under international law. Built on stolen land, the Occupation settlements are being used to confine Palestinian into ever-smaller enclaves.
In an interview with Aretz Sheva (Israel National News), Netanyahu promised: “There will be no Palestinian state, not as people talk about it. It will not be because I am making sure of it.” The Israeli PM also made it abundantly clear that he was “maintaining a united Jerusalem” as well as “our control on the entire area west of the Jordan River . . .” During the interview, Netanyahu triumphantly reminded us that, “I brought President Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem, the transfer of the embassy and the recognition in the Golan Heights, which is very important to what I plan in Judea and Samaria.” So much for a Palestinian state! Calling the Palestinian West Bank ‘Judea and Samaria’ says it all for territorially-ambitious Israel.
Our Prime Minister’s Office response would seem to imply that relations with Israel and questions of international law fall now “within the portfolio responsibilities of the Minister of Defence”. As Ron Mark is a member of the NZ-Israel Parliamentary Friendship group, we need to know just what is our Defence Minister’s position regarding, for instance, the uncompromising disregard for international law exhibited by the Israeli Prime Minister? The Israel Institute has observed that “Ron Mark is a member of the NZ-Israel Parliamentary Friendship group but has not made any public statements in [sic] the issues” which seems to fit with his reluctance to respond to straight questions. While he chooses to remain silent, readers may find a clue as to his ideological leanings in this video of Ron Mark and Benjamin Netanyahu together in Jerusalem
All who care about the sustainability of respect for UN human rights provisions should take action in support of the Palestine Solidarity Network NZ initiative to urgently cancel a proposed New Zealand Defence Force multimillion-dollar purchase of military equipment from an Israeli company. Keep asking the Minister, again and again if necessary, to answer:
■ What is the policy regarding Israel’s violations of international humanitarian law?
■ What is the policy with regard to New Zealand contributing, through trade, to the profitability of the Israeli military?
■ In view of the evidence presented in our email and in greater detail online, is the NZ Government willing to declare it unequivocal support for international law with regard to the security and human rights of the Palestinian people living under alien military Occupation?