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NZ Govt. condemns actions of Israeli intel agents

Rt. Hon Helen Clark
15 July 2004

NZ government condemns actions of Israeli intelligence agents

Prime Minister Helen Clark said today that there were very strong reasons to believe that the two Israelis convicted on charges relating to a fraudulent attempt to obtain a New Zealand passport were acting on behalf of Israel’s intelligence services.

The two Israeli citizens were sentenced today in the High Court in Auckland following their conviction two weeks ago. Helen Clark thanked the officials in the Department of Internal Affairs and the New Zealand Police for their outstanding work in detecting the fraud and bringing the fraudsters to justice.

She said that the case involved far more than simply criminal behaviour by two individuals.

"Israel is a country with which New Zealand has long had friendly relations. The New Zealand government views the act carried out by the Israeli intelligence agents as not only utterly unacceptable but also a breach of New Zealand sovereignty and international law.

“The Israeli agents attempted to demean the integrity of the New Zealand passport system and could have created considerable difficulties for New Zealanders presenting their passports overseas in future.

"New Zealand condemns without reservation these actions by agencies of the Israel government. The Israel government was asked for an explanation and an apology three months ago. Neither has been received.

"As a result, the following measures have been implemented:
· New Zealand is suspending high-level visits from and to Israel;
· Any approach by Israel for its head of state, President Katsov, to visit New Zealand in August, in association with a proposed visit to Australia, will be declined;
· Israelis visiting New Zealand in any official government capacity will be required to apply for visas;
· Foreign Ministry consultations with Israel, due later this year, will be suspended;
· Approval for appointment of the new Israeli ambassador will be delayed and accreditation visits to Israel suspended meantime;
· Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade officials, and Ministers, will observe strict constraints on contact with Israel's honorary consuls.

"As will be apparent from these steps, the breach of New Zealand laws and sovereignty by agents of the Israeli government has seriously strained our relationship with Israel.

"With regard to the Israeli agents, no approach by Israel to intervene in the sentences imposed on them by the Courts will be entertained. At the end of their sentences the normal process regarding deportation will apply.

"This is not the first time that Israel has sought fraudulently to obtain passports from another country. Israeli agents caught in an unsuccessful assassination attempt in Jordan in 1997 were found to be carrying fraudulent Canadian passports.

"This type of behaviour is unacceptable internationally by any country. It is a sorry indictment of Israel that it has again taken such actions against a country with which it has friendly relations.

"While we regret the need for it, New Zealand has no option but to take the actions that it has in response to a deliberate breach of its sovereignty," Helen Clark said.

ENDS

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