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Protecting Civilians, Progressing Justice

Protecting Civilians, Progressing Justice

Protecting innocent civilians from harm should be the first, interim priority of international diplomatic efforts in the Lebanon, Israel and the Palestine Authority, Progressive leader, Jim Anderton says.

"Once a ceasefire is in place to protect civilians, then attention will need to be put to strengthening the foundations for a solution which offers justice and dignity to all sides to the conflict," he said.

"New Zealand has a long history of involvement in the region stretching back to the role New Zealand soldiers played in pushing the Imperial Turkish Army out of Palestine in the World War 1. The First Labour Government in the 1940s played a significant role in campaigning for international support for the establishment of a Jewish State in Palestine.

"Consistently from the start, our governments solemnly promised that the interests of all the people of the region, including the Palestinians and the Lebanese, would not be compromised, hurt or undermined by our strong desire to ensure the Jewish people had their own homeland after centuries of persecution.

"It is therefore with a deep sense of disappointment that many of my generation see and read news reports of the Israel Defence Force, one of the strongest armies in the world, inflicting the scale of damage to civilian infrastructure seen over the past few months in the Occupied Palestinian Territories, and in the past two weeks, in the Lebanon.

"Since the 1950s, a significant number of New Zealanders have made sacrifices, and in some cases risked their lives, participating in various United Nations peacekeeping, border monitoring, mine clearing and developmental agency work.

"New Zealanders will continue to contribute to the peaceful development of the region. But we all must surely know by now that a durable, sustainable peace will come about only when there is justice and dignity for all sides of the conflict," Jim Anderton said.


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