Israel sends blunt message to New Zealand: Don't try to renew peace talks

According to Channel 2, Wellington's envoy to Israel, Jonathan Curr, was called in for a meeting with National Security Adviser Yossi Cohen.

October 29, 2015 11:06
2 minute read.
Tzachi Hanegbi, Benjamin Netanyahu, Yuli Edelstein, and Isaac Herzog

Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee head MK Tzachi Hanegbi (R), Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein, and opposition chief Isaac Herzog. (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)

Israeli officials summoned New Zealand's ambassador to Tel Aviv on Wednesday to express their displeasure with the government in Wellington for attempting to re-start Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations by using its position as a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council.

According to Channel 2, the ambassador, Jonathan Curr, was called in for a meeting with National Security Adviser Yossi Cohen, who made clear in no uncertain terms that the Israeli government will countenance any diplomatic effort to re-ignite peace negotiations with Ramallah.

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According to a report in Wednesday's editions of the liberal daily Haaretz, New Zealand is preparing a draft resolution aimed at calming the recent violence and kick-starting negotiations.

The draft resolution calls for Israel to freeze settlement expansion and home demolitions, and for the Palestinians to cease lodging complaints against Israel at the International Criminal Court in The Hague. It also says that a durable peace “based on a two-state solution can only be achieved if the two sides engage in serious negotiations.”

Initially, the Foreign Ministry declined to comment on the proposal, and one government official said it is too early for Israel to take a position on the matter, because it is not clear “how serious it is.”

According to Channel 2, however, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has already decided that Jerusalem would reject such a resolution. The Foreign Ministry has instructed its ambassador in New Zealand to relay a message to the government in Wellington, according to which Israel has no intention to even entertain a discussion on the matter.

In the meantime, however, the New Zealand proposal has eclipsed an idea bandied about informally by the French – and then apparently buried following opposition by Israel, the US and Jordan – to bring a resolution to the Security Council calling for the placement of international observers on the Temple Mount.

New Zealand is one of the 10 temporary members of the 15-member Security Council and its foreign minister, Murray McCully, was in Israel earlier this year.

During his visit, one Israeli official said, Israel made the case that the job of the international community should be to encourage resumption of the negotiations, and “not to give the Palestinians an excuse not to negotiate.”

In response to a query about the New Zealand proposal, Israel’s envoy to the UN, Danny Danon, said, “the only way to achieve peace is through direct talks between the parties. The best way to reduce tensions in the region is to urge [Palestinian Authority] President [Mahmoud] Abbas to accept Prime Minister Netanyahu’s call to meet with him.”

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