Israeli ambassador to New Zealand recalled in protest at UN vote role
Foreign minister Murray McCully defends Wellington’s decision which he says should have come as no surprise to Jewish state.
Israel has withdrawn its ambassador to Wellington after the New Zealand government co-sponsored a controversial UN resolution criticising settlements in the occupied territories.
New Zealand joined Senegal, Malaysia and Venezuela in bringing the resolution before the security council despite a huge diplomatic effort by Israel to stymie the move.
There was applause in the UN chamber when the resolution – the first by the security council in more than 38 years to condemn Israel over its settlement policy – was passed 14-0.
Israel had attempted to persuade the United States to veto the resolution but the Obama administration decided instead to abstain on the vote.
Israel refused to recognise resolution 2334. Ofir Gendelman, a spokesman for the Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu, tweeted that their ambassadors to New Zealand and Senegal were to return to Israel immediately. Israel does not diplomatic relations with Malaysia and Venezuela.
“These steps are taken against countries that have tabled the draft resolution to the UNSC and have diplomatic relations with Israel,” Gendelman said.
But New Zealand’s foreign minister, Murray McCully, said the decision should have been no surprise to Israel which knew Wellington’s position long before the UN vote.
“Israel has informed us of their decision to recall their ambassador to New Zealand for consultations,” McCully said in a statement.
“We have been very open about our view that the [security council] should be doing more to support the Middle East peace process and the position we adopted today is totally in line with our long established policy on the Palestinian question.
“The vote today should not come as a surprise to anyone and we look forward to continuing to engage constructively with all parties on this issue.”
The resolution demanded that “Israel immediately and completely cease all settlement activities in the occupied Palestinian territory, including East Jerusalem.”
It states that Israeli settlements have “no legal validity” and are “dangerously imperilling the viability of the two-state solution”.
Netanyahu’s office described the UN move as a “shameful anti-Israel resolution”.
New Zealand is one of 10 non-permanent members of the security council, whose two-year term ends this month.