22 Feb 2017

Australian PM: UN resolution on Israel 'one-sided'

6:36 pm on 22 February 2017

Australia and New Zealand have agreed to disagree over New Zealand's sponsorship of the United Nations resolution on the Middle East, after it was discussed by the countries' two prime ministers last weekend.

Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, left. speaks as his Australian counterpart Malcolm Turnbull listens during their joint news conference at Kirribilli House in Sydney on 22 February, 2017.

Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, left. speaks during a joint news conference with his Australian counterpart, Malcolm Turnbull, in Sydney on 22 February. Photo: AFP

Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has taken aim at the UN for adopting what he has described as "one-sided resolutions" critical of Israel, in an opinion piece published in The Australian, ahead of a visit by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

As one of its last acts as a member of the UN Security Council, New Zealand sponsored a resolution calling for a ban on Israeli settlements in Palestinian territories, which provoked a furious diplomatic response from Israel.

When asked about Mr Turnbull's comments, New Zealand Prime Minister Bill English said the matter was raised when the two met in Queenstown last weekend.

"Yeah, we had some discussion about it... Australia has a view about it, we accept what their view is.

"New Zealand was involved with sponsoring the resolution, I think the Australian government probably disagree with that, but we want a constructive relationship with Israel and we intend to work on that relationship."

Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull meets with Bill English in Queenstown

New Zealand Prime Minister Bill English, left, shakes hands with Mr Turnbull at the start of his counterpart's visit. Photo: RNZ / Chris Bramwell

New Zealand stood by the resolution, said Mr English, but also respected Israel's right to hold a strong view to "protect itself and to articulate its views".

Last week there was an unconfirmed report in Israeli media that the government there had decided not to send its ambassador to New Zealand.

However, Mr English said there had not been any diplomatic communications from Israel over "recent weeks".

But he said he expected there would be some in future.

"We understand the extent to which the resolution upset Israel, it had quite strong views about it, and we'll be communicating with them about our focus on a positive relationship."

There had been no indication Israel's ambassador would be reinstated, he said.

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