Green Party’s bid for NZ declaration of Palestine as a state fails

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NZ Green MP Golriz Ghahraman
Green MP Golriz Ghahraman says the NZ motion was about recognising "the humanity and dignity of Palestinians". Image: Samuel Rillstone/RNZ

Asia Pacific Report newsdesk

A Green Party motion asking New Zealand MPs to recognise Palestine as a state has failed in the House, with opposition National and ACT MPs objecting to the effort.

Green Party MP Golriz Ghahraman, who arrived in New Zealand at an early age with her family as an Iranian-born refugee,​ today sought leave of the House to debate a motion asking MPs to recognise “the state of Palestine among our community of nations”, reports Stuff.

New Zealand does not recognise Palestine as a state but supports a two-state solution to the conflict, which would mean the creation of a Palestinian state.

RNZ News reports that Ghahraman said it was about recognising “the humanity and dignity of Palestinians at a time when they are facing extreme violence and degradation, once again, at the hands of Israeli occupying forces”.

National’s Foreign Affairs spokesperson Gerry Brownlee said the party had consistently been in favour of a two-state system.

“Despite the failure of talks over many years to achieve this, we are firmly of the view that it is the best solution to the extraordinary violence that has for a long time and currently is afflicting both Israelis and Arabs on the two sides of the argument,” Brownlee said.

There had been “administrative signs” that discussions had started to evolve, he said.

‘Get back to the table’
“What we need now is for those parties to desist from their current conflict and to get back to the table, working out how they can co-exist in what is a very, very small part of the world.”

The ACT Party also opposed the motion.

A letter sent by the party’s Deputy Leader Brooke Van Velden to Ghahraman said ACT supported a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Van Velden said the primary reason it was opposing the motion was because of a tweet sent by Green MP Ricardo Menendez last week that said “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free!”

“This phrase is used by Hamas, a ‘terrorist’ organisation that calls for the elimination of Israel,” van Velden said. It is actually a phrase widely used by activists across the world in support of Palestinian self-determination.

Without Labour’s support, the Green Party motion failed.

Te Paati Māori was the only other party to support the motion.

The Speaker said it was “disorderly” of Ghahraman to try and move the motion, given she knew it was going to be voted down.

Misinformation ‘deliberately spread’
Palestine Solidarity Network Aotearoa (PSNA) national chair John Minto sent a message to van Velden, saying he had read online that she was objecting to the Green Party parliamentary motion by claiming the expression “From the river to the sea – Palestine will be free” was used by Hamas and also by a Green Party MP on Saturday.

“This is NOT a Hamas slogan. It is used in demonstrations the world over because Israel now occupies and/or controls ALL of historic Palestine (one of the longest occupations in modern history) and the saying simply says that every Palestinian living between the Jordan river and the Mediterranean Sea deserves their freedom – something I’m sure you will agree with,” Minto said.

“It’s also important to note that Hamas itself supports a two-state solution based on 1967 borders – as does New Zealand, the US and most other countries we like to compare ourselves with.

“There is a lot of misinformation deliberately spread by the pro-Israeli lobby here and around the world to derail pressure on Israel. Please don’t be dissuaded from supporting this motion by mischievous misinformation.”

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