9 May 2017

Brownlee walks back Israel resolution comment

1:22 pm on 9 May 2017

Foreign Minister Gerry Brownlee has expressed regret over describing a United Nations resolution on Israel as 'premature' last week.

Press conference in the bunker at Parliament. Gerry Brownlee, Acting Civil Defence Minister.

Gerry Brownlee Photo: RNZ / Rebekah Parsons-King

In his first few days in the role, Mr Brownlee said the New Zealand-sponsored resolution was "premature" and lacked the support it needed to succeed.

The resolution called for a halt to Israeli settlements in Palestinian territories, which infuriated Israel, and led to it withdrawing its ambassador late last year.

Prime Minster Bill English said yesterday Mr Brownlee was just "trying to find the right language" and that "in this world of diplomacy each word matters".

He said the government did not hold the view the resolution was premature, and nor was New Zealand's role in passing it.

Mr Brownlee said today he has received advice from the Ministry on appropriate diplomatic language.

"What we are trying to do is re-establish diplomatic relations with a country that we have had a long relationship with," he said.

"Under the intense scrutiny of a Radio New Zealand journalist's questioning I used some language that perhaps made that less than clear."

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