6 Nov 2023

Palestinian ambassador wants New Zealand to 'play a leadership role' and ask for immediate ceasefire in Gaza

4:31 pm on 6 November 2023
Hundreds attended a vigil in Aotea Square on Wednesday 18 October in support of Gaza. Protestors chanted, 'Free Palestine' and waved Palestinian flags.

Palestinian flags are waved at a vigil in Aotea Square in Auckland in October. Photo: Lucy Xia / RNZ

The Palestinian ambassador to Australia, New Zealand and the Pacific says New Zealand can play a role internationally to help reach a ceasefire in Gaza.

Over the past few weeks, thousands of people have attended rallies across Aotearoa both condemning the bombings of civilians in Gaza, and others in support of Israel.

The 7 October attacks by Hamas killed 1400 Israelis. The Hamas-run health ministry in Gaza says more than 9700 people have been killed in the Strip since then.

Ambassador Dr Izzat Abdalhadi told Voices a resolution was needed.

"For us, for a long long time, we tried to reach this political solution - supporting a two state solution, unfortunately international community, they provide impunity to Israel, and Israel is not abide [sic] by international law as you can see now," he said.

Dr Abdalhadi said he appreciated that New Zealand had historically been even-handed in supporting Palestinian rights at the United Nations, and he wanted to see New Zealand step-up.

"New Zealand in particular can play a leadership role in reaching resolution to this conflict, in particular, actually to engage with international community to reach an immediate ceasefire in Gaza," he said.

In an interview last month, Israeli Ambassador to New Zealand Ran Yaakoby told Midday Report that Israel's response to the Hamas attacks on 7 October was proportionate.

"Proportionality means that one has the right to prevent the danger," he said.

"...One needs to know the reality on the ground on both sides, and one needs to relate also to the suffering of the Israelis. Now nine million Israelis [are] in bomb shelters because of the rocket barrage of Hamas and Hezbollah."

He said Israel was acting on its right to self-defence according to international law.

Charity Save the Children said more children had died in Gaza in this war so far than in all conflicts around the world in each of the past four years.

When asked for his view on calling for a ceasefire in Gaza, Incoming Prime Minister Christopher Luxon told Morning Report while a ceasefire may be what was needed to get the peace process started in the Middle East, neither sides wanted a ceasefire.

Israel has said it needed progress on the release of hostages captured by Hamas before agreeing to any pause in its offensive.

Luxon said the focus now should be on achieving a humanitarian truce.

"What we're doing is calling for a humanitarian truce, that is a really good first and immediate step, because it's time bound, it's practical,

"I think it's highly possible we can get it done and it gets immediate relief to civilians, and so that has to be the focus for now."

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