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Democratic elections best way forward in Palestine

11 November 2004

Hon Matt Robson MP, Progressive Deputy Leader

Democratic elections best way forward for peace in Palestine

The death of the elected president of the Palestinian National Authority, Yasser Arafat, is a day of great sadness for many Palestinians, Progressive MP Matt Robson said today.

"Under international law, the Government of Israel is responsible for the well-being, security and human rights of the Palestinians living in the West Bank and Gaza, including the Old City of Jerusalem which have all been under Israeli military control since the 1967 invasion of those territories by the Israel Defence Force.

"The death of the elected leader of the Palestinian population of the Occupied Territories requires the Israeli government to lift restrictions on free, fair and democratic elections to find a new leader and a new Palestine Legislative Council as immediately as is practically possible," Matt Robson said.

The Progressive MP, who chairs the New Zealand Parliament-Palestine Legislative Council Friendship Group of MPs, said New Zealand has had a century-long relationship with the Palestinian people dating back to World War I when Palestinian and Commonwealth forces as ended Turkish rule over Palestine.

In 1947, the first Labour government in New Zealand made a strong commitment at the United Nations to ensure that the partition of Palestine, in order to create a new state of Israel in a portion of it, would not be done at the expense of the Palestinian people.

"The commitment of the international community to the Palestinians, made in 1947, has yet to be met.

"Perhaps this historic event, the death of the symbol of the Palestinians' struggle for recognition, will act as a catalyst for the political leaders of the region to finally turn their serious attention to resolving the just and fair aspirations of Israelis and Palestinians with two democratic states living peacefully side-by-side," Matt Robson said.

ENDS

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