Gerry hanging tough on Israel

Gerry Brownlee still seems to be trying to resolve the Israel issue, despite orders from his boss to STFU.

Tim Watkin at Pundit reveals a bit more behind the scenes and confirms what I have pointed out all along about Murray McCully:

A month ago Bill English gave his Foreign Minister Gerry Brownlee what some saw as a gentle rebuke for his comments about New Zealand co-sponsoring a UN resolution condemning Israel’s settlement in Palestinian territory.

It seems Brownlee is still looking for that language.

When Brownlee first became foreign minister, replacing Murray McCully, he seemed to walk back New Zealand’s commitment to the very resolution we had co-sponsored at the United Nations. The resolution we co-sponsored with Venezuela, Malaysia and Senegal was controversial.

It was, in fact, a landark resolution; the first time in 30 years that the UN security council had condmened the Israeli settlements built in the occupied territory. America has previously used its veto powers to stop such votes being passed. But on his way out the door, Barack Obama changed tack. After years of political wrangling with Israel and personal hostility with Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, the US chose to merely abstain, and let the vote go through.

Every other security council member voted in favour.

Ignore for a minute how wrong Watkin is on the contents of the resolution, and think about what he is saying there. But he has more:

New Zealand got caught up in that because Murray McCully decided to co-sponsor resolution 2334, seemingly without consulting his cabinet colleagues. (Sound familiar, Saudi sheep followers?). It was entirely consistent with McCully’s commitment (often mocked) that New Zealand would play an active role in the Middle East peace process during our time on the Security Council. It also would never have happened without US machinations; you can be sure we were doing Obama’s bidding in this. But it enraged Netanyahu, who called it “an act of war” by New Zealand and promptly pulled his ambassador out of Wellington.

The cabinet, and indeed the National Party, were clearly blind-sided by McCully’s manoeuvre. And it seems they weren’t impressed. What’s followed though has become something of a diplomatic debacle.

McCully broke the rules, but got away with it because Bill English covered for him. It is a diplomatic debacle, orchestrated by McCully, aided and abetted by Bill English. But Gerry isn’t shutting up.

McCully’s successor Gerry Brownlee, in a remarkable resolution rebellion upon taking the job, called the resolution “premature” and wouldn’t endorse it. Yep, the one we co-sponsored at the world’s top council table.

“I’m not going to make a statement about whether we were right or wrong,” he told RNZ.

It was left to English to explain away Brownlee’s resolution revolution. He was still “trying to find the right language,” English explained. A newbie mistake, he said. When asked if Brownlee had found the right language now, he gave a firm one word reply: “Yes”.

Which raises questions about this exchange on The Nation yesterday:

Lisa Owen: “…is it okay for Israel to build settlements on Palestinian land – illegal settlements on Palestinian land – despite international condemnation? Are you okay with that?
Brownlee: Well, that’s not the question that we’re facing at the moment.
It’s the question I’m asking you, Mr Brownlee.
I know it is. But the question that I’m addressing is our ability to speak with Israel in a very free and frank manner that you are able to do when you have solid diplomatic relations, which at the moment are suspended. I’m very, very confident that we’ll be able to get back to a good position on that in the near future.”

Once again given the opportunity to endorse the resolution New Zealand co-sponsored, Brownlee obfuscated. He simply would not say, as the resolution does, that it is not OK for Israel to build on Palestinian land. Instead, he made it clear his priority was to get back onside with Israel, going onto say that there will be an announcement “in the very near future”, presumably that Israel’s ambassador will be on a plane back.

Good on Gerry Brownlee. Him and I have never seen eye to eye on many matters since 1999. However he is acting with integrity here over the balls-up with Israel caused by Bill English and Murray McCully.

Either Brownlee is still rebelling against his Prime Minister and English’s instruction to find “the right language”, or this is the right language and New Zealand’s position is now not to support resolution 2334.

So which is it? Despite the obvious ructions within National and the fact it’s becoming increasingly obvious the majority of cabinet does not actually support resolution 2334, English needs to take this in hand. This is, after all, the Prime Minister who on the very same day Brownlee was calling the resolution “premature”, said he did not regret New Zealand’s co-sponsrship.

Or has English decided to let Brownlee go rogue – and go luke-warm on that landmark resolution – for the sake of repairing relations with Israel?

Actually Tim, it was McCully who went rogue…and you have said as much yourself. Why wasn’t your media organisation all over that, instead you are all over this supposed embarrassment.

The right language that you desire is this. “New Zealand stands with democracy, not with despots, dictators and terrorists. We back Israel until Hamas and the Palestinian Authority renounce terrorism, recognise the right of Israel to exist and put down their arms and seek peace. Until that time New Zealand stands with Israel.”


-Pundit (BTW I’d put a link, but when Andrew Geddis, an academic, can’t even say my name, then sorry)

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As much at home writing editorials as being the subject of them, Cam has won awards, including the Canon Media Award for his work on the Len Brown/Bevan Chuang story. When he’s not creating the news, he tends to be in it, with protagonists using the courts, media and social media to deliver financial as well as death threats.

They say that news is something that someone, somewhere, wants kept quiet. Cam Slater doesn’t do quiet and, as a result, he is a polarising, controversial but highly effective journalist who takes no prisoners.

He is fearless in his pursuit of a story.

Love him or loathe him, you can’t ignore him.

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