The Palestine Solidarity Network Aotearoa has accused the New Zealand government of developing a “backdoor policy entanglement” with Israel.
PSNA had discovered that New Zealand had signed a Technical, Innovation, Research and Development Agreement with Israel through a Facebook post by the Israeli Embassy, said national chair John Minto said in a statement.
He said Minister Megan Woods had signed the agreement on March 5 but it had been kept quiet at the time.
“Normally a major bilateral deal would involve photo opportunities at Parliament and press releases. On this occasion, with the Israelis, nothing,” Minto said.
Minto said he believed the government was embarrassed about a growing set of agreements with Israel.
“They know that they shouldn’t be doing deals when Israel is poised to illegally annex major parts of the Occupied Palestinian Territories,” he said.
“They know they should be breaking off agreements with Israel at this time – not signing new ones.”
‘Not a good look’
Minto said the previous government delayed signing the New Zealand-Israel Film Coproduction Agreement until 2015, because it thought that signing the agreement while Israel had been attacking Gaza the previous year was “not a good look”.
“The current government has never criticised Israeli actions. Not even in 2018 when Israeli snipers were gunning down unarmed Palestinian protesters through the Israeli blockade fence around Gaza.
“And now not when the Israeli government is ready to steal more Palestinian land.”
Respect for international law and the most basic human rights demanded that New Zealand should suspend all bilateral agreements with Israel until the threat of annexation was lifted.
Palestine yesterday declared the abolition of all agreements and understandings with Israel and the US in protest against the Israeli plan to annex parts of the West Bank.
Under the Fourth Geneva Convention of 1949, Israel is held responsible for protecting the civilian population under occupation and their property, criminalising collective punishment, banning theft of resources, appropriation and annexation of land, and banning forced transfer of the population.