With New Zealand-Israeli relations at a low after NZ’s sponsorship of the scandalous UN SC resolution 2334 and Israel’s response (recalling its ambassador from NZ and restricting the ability of NZ’s representative to enter the country), NZ’s new Foreign Minister Gerry Brownlee has criticized his country’s involvement.
Mr Brownlee has extended the olive branch to Israel after it recalled its ambassador late last year.
This was a protest against New Zealand’s part in a resolution calling for a halt to Israeli settlements in Palestinian territories and an end to violence.
He said one of his immediate priorities was to restore the relationship as Israel was in a part of the world challenged by rogue states and terrorists, and has written to the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Mr Brownlee said New Zealand should not “pronounce” how either party involved in Middle Eastern policy should behave, beyond condemning terrorism.
When asked whether his view contradicted the substance of the resolution, Mr Brownlee said in the end the solution to conflict in the Middle East would be achieved by the people who live there – “that’s my view”.
“The value of any resolution is in how much support it gets and the willingness of the parties who are having the resolution imposed upon them to accept what’s in it.
“I think it’s just premature.”
When questioned further about that statement, Mr Brownlee said when a country was looking at a resolution that was “demanding an outcome”, it was important to know an outcome was possible.
“So I’m not going to make a statement about whether we were right or wrong … what we have got is a relationship with Israel which is an important country in that part of the world for stability in that part of the world.”
Sounds like a Foreign Minister with his head screwed on the right way. Unfortunately, he has been forced to admit he screwed up in making those (honest) comments.
Foreign Minister Gerry Brownlee says he’s an “excellent student” when it comes to learning diplomatic speak.
The newly-appointed Minister is being tutored by his officials at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade after comments which appeared to undermine a New Zealand-sponsored UN Security Council resolution condemning the building of Israeli settlements on Palestinian land.
Brownlee admits the comments were his mistake.
“The Government’s position hasn’t changed. What we are trying to do is re-establish diplomatic relations with a country that we’ve had a long relationship with.
“Under the intense scrutiny of a Radio New Zealand journalist, I used some language that perhaps made that less than clear,” he said.
In that interview, Brownlee described the resolution carried out under his predecessor Murray McCully as “premature”, and suggested New Zealand should not have moved forward with it unless Israel agreed.
“It’s something I’ve got to take little bit of a lesson from my friends at MFAT who are currently giving me various pieces of advice about appropriate diplomatic language.”
But Brownlee gave an assurance: “I’m an excellent student, a great learner.”
Unfortunately, his teacher leaves a lot to be desired.