John Minto: Israel’s new leadership demands NZ reassess its Middle East policy

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Israel's new extreme rightwing government triggers protests
Israel's new extreme rightwing government triggers protests. Image: France 24 screenshot

COMMENTARY: By John Minto

The swearing in of the extremist leadership in Israel demands the Aotearoa New Zealand government reassess its policy towards the Middle East.

New Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has declared his top priority is to build more illegal Jewish-only settlements on occupied Palestinian land.

This policy declares the leadership’s intention to:

“advance and develop settlement in all parts of the land of Israel – in the Galilee, Negev, Golan Heights, and Judea and Samaria”. (These are the Biblical names for the occupied Palestinian West Bank)

New Zealand has bipartisan support for UN Security Council resolution 2334 of 2016 which was promoted by the former John Key National government. It declares Israeli settlements on Palestinian land as “a flagrant violation under international law” and says all settlement activities in the occupied Palestinian territory, including East Jerusalem, must “immediately and completely cease.”

With the announcement of its intention to escalate these flagrant violations of international law, Israel is giving us the middle finger.

If our support for international law and United Nations resolutions is to have real meaning, then our government must urgently reassess its relationship with Israel.

The new Israeli leadership includes several extreme racists and supporters of anti-Palestinian terrorism such as Itamar Ben-Gvir as Minister of National Security. Ben-Gvir has expressed support and admiration for Baruch Goldstein, a Jewish Israeli man who killed 29 Palestinians in a shooting at Hebron’s Ibrahimi Mosque in 1994.


Israeli protests against the most rightwing government in history. Video: France 24

Just a few weeks before his swearing in as Minister of National Security, Ben-Gvir described as a hero an Israeli soldier who shot to death a young Palestinian at point blank range — widely described as an assassination.

We have had our own deadly terrorist attack on a mosque in Christchurch in which 51 New Zealanders (including six Palestinian New Zealanders) were killed. Why would we have relations with a government whose senior leadership includes Ben-Gvir who for many years had a picture of the terrorist Goldstein on his living room wall?

Alongside Palestinian groups, Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and Israel’s largest and most respected human rights group, B’Tselem, have all declared Israel to be an apartheid state.

Because the new Israeli leadership has declared its intention to accelerate its apartheid policies against Palestinians, we should suspend our relationship with Israel and finally recognise a Palestinian state.

John Minto is a political activist and commentator, and spokesperson for Palestine Solidarity Network Aotearoa. Republished from The Daily Blog with permission.

Disappearing Palestine
Alongside Palestinian groups, Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and Israel’s largest and most respected human rights group, B’Tselem, have all declared Israel to be an apartheid state. Image: TDB
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