8 May 2017

Brownlee was 'trying to find the right language' on Israel - PM

6:55 pm on 8 May 2017

The Prime Minister has given a second explanation for Foreign Minister Gerry Brownlee's description of a UN resolution on Israel as "premature".

Media conference in the bunker at Parliament. Gerry Brownlee speaks to media.

Foreign Minister Gerry Brownlee described the New Zealand sponsored resolution on Israel as "premature". Photo: RNZ / Rebekah Parsons-King

In his first few days in the role, Mr Brownlee said the New Zealand sponsored resolution was premature, and lacked the support needed to succeed.

Israel was infuriated by the resolution, which called for a halt to settlements in Palestinian territories and a cessation of violence.

In Parliament last Thursday, Cabinet minister Paula Bennett told MPs Mr Brownlee meant New Zealand did not give Israel enough notice about the resolution.

Prime Minister Bill English this afternoon offered another explanation.

"He was just trying to find the right language ... Well, he's getting familiar with the language the government's been using around it, and in this world of diplomacy each word matters."

He said the government did not hold the view the resolution was premature, and nor was New Zealand's role in passing it.

After speaking to Mr Brownlee about his comments, Mr English said he doubted the Foreign Minister would use that word again when talking about the resolution.

Mr English said, to his knowledge, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had not replied to a letter sent by the government seeking a reconciliation.

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