John Minto: NZ’s Labour refuses to recognise Palestine – even after 104 years

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If re-elected, Labour would invite the Palestinian Ambassador
If re-elected, New Zealand's Labour Party would invite the Palestinian Ambassador to Canberra to present credentials to New Zealand. Image: X @coughlthom

COMMENTARY: By John Minto

Palestine Solidarity Network Aotearoa (PSNA) supporters are livid Labour is refusing to recognise the state of Palestine a full 104 years after the first Palestinian calls for an independent state.

It’s a disgraceful decision, both unprincipled and cowardly.

Deputy Prime Minister Grant Robertson confirmed this decision when answering questions here:

Q – ??? about the Palestinian Representative in Australia to present his credentials here. That was announced formally.

Grant Robertson – There is a formal Foreign Policy part of the manifesto. We’re sticking with the long standing bi-partisan approach to a two-state solution in the Middle East and what we are doing is working with the Palestinian representative on closer discussions but that doesn’t make a change to a formal recognition. It just means that we open that dialogue up.

Q – So no formal recognition?

GR – Not until there is a state to recognise. But we have long stood for a two-state solution and what we have said is that we want to have more open and regular dialogue with Palestinian Representatives.

Labour implied in their manifesto release this week that they would recognise the state of Palestine although the wording was unclear and ambiguous. What is clear now is that the slippery wording was deliberately meant to mean all things to all people.

The disingenuous wording in the Labour manifesto says:

Labour is committed to an enduring and just two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, based on the right of Israel to live in peace within secure borders internationally recognised and agreed by the parties, and reflecting the legitimate aspirations of the Palestinian people to also live in peace and security within their own state.

A re-elected Labour government will:

Invite the Head of the General Delegation of Palestine to present their credentials as an Ambassador to New Zealand.

One hundred and thirty eight other countries have recognised Palestine as a state and haven’t had the “problem” of recognition that Grant Robertson has manufactured for Labour.

It seems Labour has once more buckled to pressure from a tiny pro-Israel lobby group within the party. They are allowing these anti-Palestinian racists to veto any meaningful steps to support the Palestinian struggle for human rights.

It’s an indelible stain on Labour’s integrity.

Background to the 104 years
After 1918, when the Ottoman Empire collapsed at the end of the First World War, each of the countries of that empire gained independence — except Palestine. The first Palestine National Congress was held in 1919 and called for independence from Britain which held the League of Nations mandate for Palestine.

Britain, however, refused independence and in the 104 years since, Western countries, including New Zealand, have colluded with Britain, then Israel and the US, to deny a Palestinian state or even equal rights for Palestinians who are citizens of Israel.

Western countries turned a blind eye to Israel’s ethnic cleansing of hundreds of thousands of Palestinians in 1947–49 and look the other way today as Palestinians continue to be driven out of their homes and off their land by Israeli settlers, backed up by the Israeli military.

John Minto is national chair of the Palestine Solidarity Network Aotearoa (PSNA). Republished from The Daily Blog with permission.

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