Thursday, November 2, 2017

NZ coalition agreement's best clause

Tucked in the very bottom of the coalition agreement between the New Zealand Labour Party and New Zealand First to form the new New Zealand government is a small, incongruous clause that could be missed on first reading. It says the parties agree to "Record a Cabinet minute regarding the lack of process followed prior to the National-led government’s sponsorship of UNSC2334."

United Nations Security Council resolution 2334 condemns Israeli settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories and I have written before about why I was so disgusted by my government's sponsorship of it. The Israelis claimed that New Zealand was pressured by the outgoing Obama administration into fronting the resolution (with the US abstaining, presumably so that the Democratic Party did not suffer blowback from the powerful American Jewish lobby). The fact that the new government's coalition agreement acknowledges that due process was not followed suggests that there may be substance to this claim.

New Zealand's stance is in contrast to Australian Prime Minister Malcom Turnbull's lauding of his country's strong relationship with Israel on his recent trip to that country. Turnbull took the opportunity during his visit to celebrate the extraordinarily courage of Australian (and New Zealand) cavalry during the Battle of Beersheba one hundred years ago.

It takes a degree of political courage to stand with Israel today. I am sure the clause in the coalition agreement would not have been welcomed by everyone in the Labour Party caucus and certainly not within the Green Party, their other political partner. I imagine that both the New Zealand First leader, Winston Peters, and deputy leader, Ron Mark (a former soldier who served in the Middle East), had a part to play in insisting on the inclusion of the clause, and for that I salute them.

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