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PM's Presser: Israeli Spies & Photo Opportunities

Prime Minister Press Conference - Monday, 07 February 2005

Israeli Spies & Photo Opportunities


By Kevin List

IN THIS EDITION:
Australian Expulsion Of Israeli Official
Dr Brash's Photo Opportunity From Hell

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Australian Expulsion Of Israeli Official

Over the weekend Green MP, Keith Locke, was demanding answers regarding possibly nefarious activities involving the Israeli embassy in Australia, which is cross accredited to New Zealand. An Israeli diplomat had recently been expelled and Mr Locke was concerned that the expelled diplomat may have been involved in the passport fraud committed by Israeli citizens Uri Kelman and Eli Cara in New Zealand last year. A third Israeli citizen supposedly involved in the passport fraud case, Zev Barkan had previously worked for the Israeli government in a diplomatic capacity.

Mr Locke stated today that "The expelled diplomat was cross-accredited to New Zealand and visited the two Mossad spies jailed here. It is bad enough that Mossad was infringing on New Zealand's sovereignty and laws. It is even worse if the Israeli diplomatic post responsible for New Zealand was involved."

Today at the post cabinet press conference the Prime Minister was somewhat more reticent, when discussing the case of the expelled Israeli diplomat, refusing to confirm whether the diplomat expelled had ever visited either Eli Cara or Uri Kelman:

"I can't confirm whether he was the official who came across on a consular basis - what I would say is that it is absolutely normal practice for diplomats to visit prisoners in jail offshore.", she said.

The Prime Minister was also unwilling to be expand on a briefing she had been given following the Israeli diplomats expulsion.

"I've had some briefing but it's really up to the Australian Government to speak for itself on these matters."

The Prime Minister did explain that there had been no improvement in relations between Israel and New Zealand following the intensely public trial of Mr Kelman and Mr Cara, both of whom have since appealed their convictions.

"We never expected this sort of action from a government with which we had friendly relations. We made clear what we believed needed to be done to restore those relations – and of course the ongoing legal action does place some constraint on what I can say".

(Note: The lawyer for the two Israeli's has announced today that the appeal against their conviction has been discontinued.)

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Click for big version

Tame Iti At The Tuhoe Hearings – Source Aocafe.com

Dr Brash's Photo Opportunity From Hell

Due to the need to get to the airport swiftly and safely, there was little room for many other issues of the day to pop up. The Prime Minister did however take time to answer a few questions on Waitangi day and Dr Brash's new Maori confidant, Tame Iti. Dr Brash had been seated in between Destiny NZ spiritual guru, Brian Tamaki and Mr Iti at the Waitangi Day celebrations. A slightly uncomfortable looking Don Brash was at least able to benefit from Mr Iti's translation services during the powhiri, at Te Tii Marae.

Last week Mr Brash's justice spokesperson,Tony Ryall, had been busy making political capital out of the police's failure to arrest Mr Iti for firearms offences. Mr Ryall had even gone to the trouble of assisting the police with their inquiries (or grassing Mr Iti up, as some criminal elements would put it) by tabling a video, in Parliament on Thursday, of Mr Iti destroying a flag.

Late last week ACT leader Rodney Hide had also been outraged that Mr Iti had even been allowed to go to Waitangi following his shotgun shenanigans.

"It shows that the Labour Party is soft on Maori activists." Mr Hide told the New Zealand Herald.

Unfortunately for Mr Hide's opposition colleague, Dr Brash, there was only one politician that was caught on camera with Mr Iti – Dr Brash. The Prime Minister prided herself on being too sharp to get sandwiched between Pastor Brian Tamaki and the irrepressible Tuhoe activist.

"I didn't put myself in that position precisely because Te Tii Marae has been related with incidents of that type for a long time and I don't wish to be associated with that type of incident."

Earlier in the press conference the Prime Minister had attempted to distance herself, and her allegedly, 'soft' government, from Mr Iti and his ilk.

"He is a man whose behaviour has been debated in the House last week as totally inappropriate – so it has to be the photo opportunity from hell to be seated next to him at a powhiri".

ENDS

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