National Party leader, Simon Bridges, has acknowledged that New Zealand “got it wrong” by co-sponsoring United Nations Security Council Resolution 2334 alongside Malaysia, Senegal, and Venezuela.
Though New Zealand First leader, Winston Peters, challenged the process at the time – that the decision was not put to cabinet – Mr Bridges stated that he thought cabinet “would have made a different decision” than Foreign Minister Murray McCully did. This is an important acknowledgement – especially after Bill English failed to answer questions about the controversial resolution and claimed that the decision actually didn’t need to go to cabinet.
The comments by Mr Bridges were made during question time at a Hastings public meeting on Friday 29 June, 2018, and are online. Pastor Nigel Woodley asked
“In a future National govt led by you, what do you propose to do to ensure that a much more even-handed, balanced, and fair foreign policy towards the State of Israel is enacted. Because at the moment the foreign policy is very much tipped in favour of the Palestinians at the expense of both truth and justice.”Pastor Nigel Woodley
The response of Mr Bridges is transcribed below the video. He made three important comments that need to be highlighted.
- “I get that question or similar at most meetings”
This observation shows how the actions of Minister McCully were out of step with the wishes of the people. The Israel Institute of New Zealand 2017 poll showed that more than half of all Kiwis support Israel and only about one quarter thought the government was right to co-sponsor the resolution. The thousands of New Zealanders who protested, signed letters, and expressed their disappointment at the time are clearly still sending the same message.
- “We got it wrong on that UN resolution ”
This acknowledgment is some relief to the majority of New Zealanders and is an important step from Mr Bridges. However, the resolution is not “history” now and nor is it “academic”, as Rt Hon Mr Peters has claimed.Unfortunately, UN resolutions build upon each other and 2334 was referenced in the disproportionate number of anti-Israel resolutions that New Zealand continued to support in 2017, and in the recent resolution condemning Israel for “disproportionate and indiscriminate force” with regard to the Gaza riots – a resolution that New Zealand also supported, despite it not mentioning Hamas.If New Zealand is to act on the rhetoric, then the voting pattern at the UN must change to become more in line with our traditional allies on the side of truth, justice, and fairness.
- “Israel [doesn’t get] a free pass to act disproportionately against Human Rights”
Neither should Israel get a “free pass”. It should be treated like any other country. And that is the problem – no other nation is subjected to the same degree of scrutiny or opprobrium than Israel, especially at the United Nations.If Mr Bridges has specific examples of disproportionate or indiscriminate force then he should speak against them. And his words would have more meaning if he also condemned Hamas, Islamic Jihad, and other groups that actually use indiscriminate and disproportionate force against civilians, not to mention any other country in the world where there are real human rights abuses. Else, the “free pass” double standards speak for themselves.
“You get a chocolate fish because I get that question or similar at most meetings so there is definitely a view out there about there about Israel and what happened.
Firstly, we got it wrong on that UN resolution . Let’s just acknowledge that.
It’s very simple really; the Minister of Foreign Affairs should have brought it to cabinet but he didn’t. And as a result of that, cabinet couldn’t make a decision. I think they would have made a different decision. But that’s history.
I am genuinely pro-Israel. I don’t just say that to make you feel good and nice but I am. I think they have a right to their state. They have a long held territorial right to it over thousands of years.
The only thing I would say – and I appreciate what you said, you said “balance” and that’s absolutely right. The only thing I would say to you that you won’t like as much. All of my support for Israel, in Foreign Policy terms, doesn’t mean that Israel gets a free pass to act disproportionately against Human Rights.
I do think, even though they’ve stood on their rights – you know, the stuff with America recently and the Embassy in Jerusalem – they may have been right in a technical rights sense but I do think they are a bit over the top. I know people disagree and there will be all sorts of views but they do need to act proportionately in self-defense of their rights and sometimes they don’t. They don’t get a free pass, is what I’m saying.”Simon Bridges