30 Dec 2016

NZ-Aus division opens up over Israel

12:29 pm on 30 December 2016

A diplomatic division has developed between New Zealand and Australia after Canberra's suggested it would not have supported last week's initiative from New Zealand on the Israeli-Palestinian issue.

New Zealand was one of four countries that sponsored a resolution in the Security Council condemning Israeli settlement policy in the occupied territories.

It passed by 14 votes to none, with the United States abstaining.

World Humanitarian Summit Pacific Consultation. Hon. Julie Bishop, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Australia

Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop says the country is "firmly committed to a two-state solution, where Israel and a Palestinian state exist side-by-side in peace and security". Photo: RNZ / Diego Opatowski

Israel's building of settlements on occupied land is jeopardising Middle East peace, US Secretary of State John Kerry said on Thursday, voicing unusually frank frustration with the longtime US ally weeks before he is due to leave office.

Last Friday, Washington effectively cleared the way for a UN resolution that demanded an end to Israeli settlement building, prompting Israeli Government officials to direct harsh attacks against Mr Obama and Mr Kerry.

Israel recalled its ambassador to New Zealand after it co-sponsored the resolution, which argued the settlements had "no legal validity and [constituted] a flagrant violation under international law".

In a statement to the ABC, Foreign Minister Julie Bishop reiterated that the Australian government remained "firmly committed to a two-state solution, where Israel and a Palestinian state exist side-by-side in peace and security, within internationally-recognised borders".

"Australia urges both sides to refrain from steps that damage the prospect for peace and to resume direct negotiations for a two-state solution as soon as possible."

Donald Trump

US President-elect Donald Trump has vowed to pursue more pro-Israeli policies. Photo: AFP

Ms Bishop noted Australia was not a member of the Security Council and was not eligible to vote on the resolution, but indicated the Federal Government did not support the contentious move.

"In voting at the UN, the Coalition Government has consistently not supported one-sided resolutions targeting Israel," the statement said.

Earlier, Mr Kerry said Israel would "never have true peace" with the Arab world if it did not reach an accord based on Israelis and Palestinians living in their own states.

In response, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Israel did not need to be lectured to by foreign leaders.

He said he looked forward to working with US President-elect Donald Trump, who has vowed to pursue more pro-Israeli policies.

"We cannot continue to let Israel be treated with such total disdain and disrespect," Mr Trump said on Twitter.

"They used to have a great friend in the US, but not anymore. The beginning of the end was the horrible Iran deal, and now this (UN).

"Stay strong Israel, January 20 is fast approaching."


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