New Zealand ‘not apologetic’ as it restores diplomatic ties with Israel

Row was kick-started when Kiwis backed controversial UN resolution on territory beyond the Green Line


The government of New Zealand denied apologising to Jerusalem over its co-sponsorship of a controversial UN motion on Israel as the two countries restored diplomatic ties this week.

Bill English, the Prime Minister of New Zealand, sent a letter to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu reportedly saying he "regretted the damage done to Israel-New Zealand relations as a result of New Zealand proposing Resolution 2344 at the Security Council".

However, Gerry Brownlee, New Zealand’s Foreign Minister, told the New Zealand Herald that the country was “not apologising for anything.

"We're simply saying that friends who are estranged can't talk about these matters”, he said. “So being able to discuss them is important."

The Israeli envoy to New Zealand is due to return to his embassy in a few days.

UN resolution 2334, which was passed last December, declared any Israeli presence beyond the pre-1967 lines to be illegitimate.

Critics of the declaration pointed out that since the Old City of Jerusalem was outside the 1967 borders, the resolution was denying Israel’s sovereignty over sites including the Western Wall.

The resolution was sponsored by Venezuela, Malaysia, Senegal and New Zealand. Israel withdrew its ambassadors from New Zealand and Senegal in response to the resolution – it does not have diplomatic relations with Malaysia, and Venezuela cut diplomatic ties with Israel in 2009.

Israel also restored diplomatic ties earlier this month with Senegal, after a meeting between Mr Netanyahu and Macky Sall, the President of Senegal, at a conference in Liberia on June 4. 

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