7 Dec 2023

Parliament’s first choice of debate topic is Gaza

From The House , 6:54 pm on 7 December 2023

The first debate Parliament undertook this term (other than the set-piece response to the Message from the Throne), was about the situation in Gaza. 

The topic is tragic, and the emotion was raw. 

Ultimately every party voted for a variation on the motion proposed, but there was much strong language and personal attacks as amendments to strengthen the motion were debated, and largely rejected. 

Damien O'Connor speaks at Parliament

Photo: RNZ / Angus Dreaver

On the whole the governing parties were cautious (National), focused on Israel’s need for defence (ACT), or distracted with attacking the opposition (NZ Frist).

The opposition parties were more focused on the extent and legality of Israel’s recent use of force and of its decades long occupation or control of the Gaza Strip and the West Bank. 

It’s a rare thing to hear the foreign affairs spokesperson for a major party (in this case Labour’s Damien O’Connor) describe the actions of a western-aligned state like Israel as genocide.