Eight questions for Ms Ardern and Mr Peters on the United Nations vote

Jacinda Ardern and Winston Peters

Prime Minister Ardern and Foreign Minister Peters both stood by New Zealand’s decision to vote for a resolution that declared the recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital “null and void”. New Zealand media framed this as Kiwis standing up to bullying on the part of USA. However, the matter suggests a number of questions for the Ministers.


1) How does recognition of the location of Israel’s Parliament, Supreme Court and national institutions damage negotiations for a two-state solution?

Mr Peters said “The resolution reflects New Zealand’s long-held support for a two-state solution to the conflict”. However, unlike previous presidents, Trump’s statement on the recognition was clear that the final status of disputed territories and borders still needed to be negotiated. The recognition, therefore, does nothing to harm prospects of a two-state solution if the Arab Palestinians ultimately agree to negotiate for their independence. The territory to which the United States will move its embassy is clearly west of the 1949 armistice line (commonly referred to as the “Green line”). It is unclear how acknowledging this land, which has been part of Israel since 1948, as Israel’s capital, should hinder negotiations any more than if Israel declared Tel Aviv its capital.


2) Why did NZ not speak out against Russia earlier this year for a similar statement or condemn Iran for claiming Jerusalem as the ‘capital of Palestine’?

In April this year, Russia said it considers West Jerusalem to be Israel’s capital – just as the United States has now done. Furthermore, following the UN resolution, Iran has voted to recognise Jerusalem as the ‘capital of Palestine’. Why is the New Zealand government critical of the United States announcement but has been silent on that of Russia and Iran?


3) Why is it acceptable to call the Old City and East Jerusalem “Palestinian territory” but unacceptable to call parts of Israel West of the Green Line “Israel”?

If we accept that calling West Jerusalem the capital of Israel is damaging to prospects of a two-state solution, we must also accept that calling the Old City and East Jerusalem “Palestinian territory” and labeling any Israeli presence “illegal” is at least equally damaging. That is exactly what UNSC 2334 did and New Zealand co-sponsored that resolution with Malaysia, Senegal, and Venezuela.


4) Why does the NZ government no longer condemn Palestinian terrorism?

Leaders who call for “days of rage”, incite violence, pay terrorists, promote suicide bombers, and teach children to hate Jews do not have peaceful intent. The New Zealand government used to condemn Palestinian terrorism but has not done so in recent years.


5) Does the NZ government condemn Obama for saying “undivided Jerusalem…”? If so, why did it not do so at the time?

Presidents Clinton, Bush, and Obama have all made statements that Jerusalem must remain the “undivided” capital of Israel. This phrasing, which was not used by Trump, indicates their intent that the Old City and East Jerusalem belong to Israel and could be considered to be prejudging negotiations. However, there was no condemnation from the New Zealand government when these leaders made their comments.


6) Did the resolution go to cabinet?

After New Zealand co-sponsored UNSC resolution 2334 with Malaysia, Senegal, and Venezuela, MP Peters was outraged that Minister McCully had not consulted cabinet with regard to the controversial resolution – even asking questions in parliament and submitting an OIA request. The Labour-NZ First coalition agreement also recorded a Cabinet minute “regarding the lack of process followed prior to the National-led government sponsorship of UNSC 2334”. Surely, the government would have followed due process and approached cabinet with this latest controversial resolution which condemns another sovereign nation and traditional ally.


7) Does New Zealand oppose the special US consulate in East Jerusalem?

The United States has a consulate in East Jerusalem that handles relations with the West Bank and Gaza. However, this consulate is more like an embassy, being one of only two US consulates that reports directly to the State Department rather than the local embassy. If New Zealand is happy for the United States to have this arrangement, there should be no problem with the United States having an Embassy in West Jerusalem, as they intend.


8) Will the New Zealand government acknowledge anti-Israel bias at the United Nations?

There were 21 resolutions that singled out Israel for condemnation at the United Nations this year. There were only 6 other resolutions that specifically singled out a nation and no country was targeted more than once, except Israel. There was not a single UNGA resolution on the human rights situation in China, Venezuela, Saudi Arabia, Belarus, Cuba, Turkey, Pakistan, Vietnam, Algeria, or any of 175 other countries.

Turkey and Yemen called the emergency session of the UN general assembly to vote on what all other sovereign nations can do without controversy, yet there hasn’t been even one resolution on the 8.5m people starving in Yemen or the lack of freedoms in Turkey. Furthermore, 83 of the 97 UN resolutions targeting a single country from 2012 to 2015 targeted Israel and between 2009-2014, UNESCO adopted 46 resolutions against Israel; one on Syria; and none on Iran, Sudan, North Korea, or any other country in the world. UNESCO has also denied Jewish and Christian ties to Jerusalem. By continuing to vote for the anti-Israel resolutions and remaining silent in the face of discrimination, New Zealand encourages the anti-Israel bias.