What did the Israel institute think about the possibility of a Labour-led coalition?

By: Asher Schwartz
The usual suspects
From the TICP – The Israeli Cartoon Project Exhibition

One of the things that the National government did that cost them my support was their disgusting treatment of Israel. Their support of resolution 2334  was the final straw for me. Any New Zealand government who does not support the only true democracy in the Middle east will never have my vote. I am loyal to my friends and I will always stand with Israel.

Now that a Labour-led coalition is in power I wondered how the possibility was viewed by the Israelis before NZ First made their decision. Could they see any possible silver lining for Israel?

2017’s election campaign was colourful and at times dramatic. Perhaps as a consequence, very little attention was paid to foreign policy. While this is understandable, for Israel supporters, the government’s position on Israel was an important factor in their decision. Interestingly, the two politicians shown by IINZ’s survey to have held favourable views on Israel have done well, David Seymour and Winston Peters. In fact, Peters, the only M.P. to have pursued the issue of New Zealand’s sponsoring of UN Resolution 2334 in parliament, is now in the position of ‘king maker’.

From many conversations on social media and elsewhere, it is evident that a number Israel supporters who were long time National supporters, changed parties and voted for Winston Peters. While Bill English campaigned well and achieved a solid result for his party, many will be watching to see how he handles the issue of New Zealand’s relationship with Israel. Many felt it would have been prudent for English to have distanced himself from McCully’s UN resolution, rather than doubling down in support.

[…] “If he confirms the fourth term, English also faces his own questions about his own ability to confront and deal with poor behaviour in his own cabinet. He let a few things slide, including: Murray McCully going rogue on Israel, Brownlee stuffing up his lines on Israel… …One trait of John Key he will need to adopt is the ability to sniff the public mood and then ruthlessly and quickly dump either the policy or the person creating the smell.”

Well, that is not going to happen now. So what did the writer think about the possibility of a Labour-led coalition?

[…] However, Winston may choose to align with Labour. The position toward Israel of some Labour members is known – David Parker, for example, has been outspoken against Israel. Labour’s leader, Jacinda Ardern, spent time in Israel while she was president of the International Union of Socialist Youth but has not yet made public comment about the issue. Israel supporters will hope she does not follow the lead of UK Labour leader, Jeremy Corbyn, who has endorsed Ardern as well as Hamas and Hezbollah.

According to Israel Institute of New Zealand co-director Paul Moon:

Whichever party is put into power, the almost inevitable alliance with New Zealand First presents an opportunity for New Zealand to recalibrate its relations with Israel. Effectively, the government could draw a line under its disastrous sponsorship of UN Resolution 2334, and look to strengthen its ties with Israel. There are opportunities for trade, academic cooperation, technological partnerships, and the fostering of relationships in the arts that could be advanced under the next government, and the Israel Institute of New Zealand is hopeful that a new and exciting level of partnership with Israel is imminent.



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