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NZ Joins Call For West Bank Withdrawal

April 8 2002

NZ Joins Call For Israel To Withdraw Forces From West Bank

New Zealand today formally expressed its deep concern about and opposition to the Israeli military action in the occupied territories.

Foreign Minister Phil Goff has asked Israel’s Ambassador Ruth Kahanoff to convey to the Israeli Government New Zealand’s call for the immediate withdrawal from the West Bank of Israeli military forces and the resumption of negotiation to end violence in line with the Tenet and Mitchell plans.

“New Zealand has repeatedly expressed its unequivocal condemnation of suicide bombings and understands Israel’s desire to protect its people against such acts of terrorism.

“However, the invasion of the West Bank towns by Israeli military forces is itself ensuring the loss of innocent civilian lives. It can only be counterproductive to Israel’s expressed desire for resumption of peace talks and peace and security in the Middle East.

“The rising death toll on the West Bank and the deprivation of food, water, power and medical supplies to the civilian population there is intolerable. So too is the appalling trauma which children trapped in their homes amidst gunfire and violence must be suffering.

“It is a huge concern to hear reports from the Red Cross and Red Crescent that medical personal have been attacked by Israeli forces, used as human shields or denied the chance of going to the help of people suffering serious injury or illness. Attacks on journalists by Israeli Forces, which we have witnessed on television, are also totally unacceptable.

“The one constant lesson from the conflict in the Middle East is that violence simply produces more violence. This action by Israel can only further entrench bitterness and hatred among Palestinian people. It breeds the kind of hopelessness and desperation amongst those suffering from economic and social depravation and violence, which will lead to more suicide bombings.

“New Zealand works hard to adopt an even handed position on the conflict in the Middle East. We have condemned violence from whichever quarter it comes. We currently provide 33 peacekeepers in the region and are prepared to do more to help if peace negotiations can take place.

“However, in the current situation we cannot condone what Israel is doing on the West Bank. New Zealand is calling for the immediate withdrawal from the West Bank of Israeli military forces and the resumption of negotiations,” Mr Goff said

Ends

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