Open letter to Nanaia Mahuta: Do the right thing over Palestine protest

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The world reacts over the assassination of Palestinian journalist Shireen Abu Akleh and the desecration of her funeral by Israeli security forces. Video: Al Jazeera

OPEN LETTER to the Foreign Minister of Aotearoa New Zealand, Nanaia Mahuta:

Kia ora Nanaia,

We have been informed that the Wellington City Council has been advised by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs not to light up the Michael Fowler Centre in the colours of the Palestinian flag tomorrow — which has been arranged through councillor Tamatha Paul and approved by council — because Aotearoa New Zealand does not recognise a Palestinian state and this will cause offence to the Israeli Embassy in Wellington.

This is outrageous advice. We want you to intervene and immediately override this advice from your ministry officials so the Fowler Centre can be lit up tomorrow.

Firstly New Zealand’s official policy is to support a “two-state” solution in historic Palestine and this policy in effect recognises a Palestinian state. You cannot have a “two-state solution” with just one state.

The New Plymouth City Council flies the Palestinian flag today 15052022
The New Plymouth City Council flies the Palestinian flag today after being requested by the local PSNA group to mark Nakba Day. Image: PSNA

Secondly it is deeply insulting to Palestinians to have official recognition of their national day — Nakba Day — effectively vetoed by ministry officials and the “sensitivities” of the Israeli embassy. It is Israel which is refusing to allow a Palestinian state to be formed.

The current Israeli Prime Minister, Naftali Bennett, has said he refuses to meet with Palestinian leaders, refuses to negotiate a peace deal and will refuse to recognise a Palestinian state while he is Prime Minister.

Why should Israel’s veto over a Palestinian state dictate Aotearoa New Zealand’s support for Palestinians?

Why would we take any notice of the “sensitivities” of an embassy which is supporting and promoting what every international human rights organisation has declared to be an apartheid state?

Parliament has flown the Ukrainian flag in recent weeks over Russia’s invasion and occupation of Ukraine so why shouldn’t New Zealand fly the Palestinian flag in recognition of Israel’s ongoing brutal military occupation of the entire area of historic Palestine?

Within the last 10 days an Israeli court has approved the eviction of 1000 more Palestinians from their land and homes in the occupied West Bank of Palestine and the Israeli regime has announced it is ready to approve the building of 4000 more Jewish-only homes in illegal settlements on Palestinian land.

And just this last week we have seen the brutal “cold-blooded murder” of Palestinian journalist Shireen Abu Akleh and the shocking sight of pall bearers and mourners at her funeral being brutally attacked by Israeli state forces.

Aotearoa New Zealand is bigger than the venal, self-serving advice of cowardly MFAT officials.

Please direct your ministry officials to approve Wellington City Council lighting up the Fowler Centre tomorrow in the colours of the Palestinian flag.

Asia Pacific Report editors join the Palestine Solidarity Network Aotearoa (PSNA) in solidarity with this open letter protest over the Nakba Day censorship and in memory of the Palestinian journalist Shireen Abu Akleh assassinated by Israeli troops last Wednesday.

A tweet after this open letter – but still no condemnation of Israel for the killing of Abu Akleh by the New Zealand government.

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