28 Feb 2016

What became of NZ's peace initiative?

6:11 am on 28 February 2016

The New Zealand Government is refusing to say what reception its Middle East peace initiative received at the United Nations.

An Israeli left-wing activist holds a banner bearing images of the Israeli and Palestinian flags during a rally demanding fresh Israeli-Palestinian peace talks

An Israeli left-wing activist holds a banner bearing images of the Israeli and Palestinian flags during a rally demanding fresh Israeli-Palestinian peace talks Photo: AFP

In October, New Zealand used its position as a non permanent member of the United Nations Security Council to circulate a draft resolution on the Israeli Palestinian dispute.

Since then, little has been heard about it.

RNZ News used the Official Information Act to try to find out what had become of the resolution, but the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade refused to disclose what had happened.

It said revealing that information could prejudice the trust other countries have in providing information to the New Zealand Government.

In the draft Security Council resolution, New Zealand called for Israel to halt its settlements in the occupied territories and Palestinians to stop taking cases to the International Criminal Court (ICC).

It also called for both sides to refrain from provocative gestures and not to demonise each other with hostile rhetoric.

New Zealand argued at the time that the stalemate between Israelis and Palestinians was unsustainable.

Both Israeli and Palestinian leaders criticised the draft.

Nothing was heard from anyone else on the council except for the Russians, who told Israeli media they believed the draft should go to a vote.

Foreign Ministers vote during a UN Security Council meeting on Syria

United Nations Security Council Photo: AFP

In the event, no vote took place.

In its response to RNZ, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade refused to say why, and only two facts have been made available.

One is that nothing was received in writing from any member states of the Security Council, permanent or temporary.

The other is that the New Zealand mission said at the time that the responses in the Security Council were mixed.

In the meantime, violence has continued in the region, with stabbing attacks on Israelis and Palestinians being shot dead.

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