Israel and New Zealand likely to renew ties

New Zealand is reaching to Israel, which seems to be tentatively willing to forget the former's unexpected endorsement of the UN resolution that called on Israel to halt its settlement construction.

June 5, 2017 22:21
1 minute read.
New Zealand flag and Parliament buildings

The current New Zealand flag flies on Parliament buildings in Wellington's Central Cusiness District on March 24, 2016.. (photo credit: AFP PHOTO)

Israel and New Zealand are expected to announce a full restoration of ties in the near future following Sunday’s announcement that Israel and Senegal have mended relations, a senior diplomatic official said.

Israel recalled its ambassadors from both countries in December, after Senegal and New Zealand – along with Venezuela and Malaysia – sponsored anti-settlement UN Security Council resolution 2334. Israel has no diplomatic ties with Venezuela or Malaysia.

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One of the conditions of Israel and Senegal declaring an end to their diplomatic crisis, and of Israel sending its ambassador back to Dakar, was Senegal’s commitment to support Israel’s efforts to gain observer status in the African Union.

Regarding New Zealand, new Foreign Affairs Minister Gerry Brownlee wrote a letter to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu last month on the occasion of Independence Day, trying to smooth over the difficulties.

“Our goal is to get the relationship between New Zealand and Israel back on track,” he said in a statement. “I’m hopeful this will provide a positive platform to re-establish communication between officials from our respective foreign affairs ministries.”

Brownlee, who said that restoring relations with Israel was one of his immediate priorities, then said in a later interview that the UN resolution was “just premature.”

One cabinet minister told the country’s parliament that Brownlee simply meant that New Zealand did not give Israel enough notice before sponsoring the resolution.

That, indeed, was one of the reasons Israel was so furious at New Zealand. A senior diplomat told The Jerusalem Post earlier this year that Jerusalem was stunned by New Zealand’s sponsorship of the resolution because the country’s foreign minister at the time, Murray McCully, was in Israel just weeks before the vote, met with Netanyahu for 90 minutes, and did not mention the likelihood of such an initiative.

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