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Open Questions for David Parker

Open Questions for David Parker

Palestine Human Rights Campaign Press Release | 3 September 2017 |

Leslie Bravery

In August 2017, Debbie Abbas, on behalf of the Palestine Solidarity Network (PSN), sent a request to the Labour Party for information on its policy towards Palestine and the New Zealand-sponsored UN Security Council Resolution 2334.

On 1 September, the Labour Party's Spokesperson for Foreign Affairs, David Parker, replied as follows:

It has long been New Zealand’s position that the West Bank settlements on Palestinian land are a provocative impediment to progressing the two state solution agreed to by both the Israeli government and the Palestinian authority under the Oslo accord.

Labour supports the action taken by the New Zealand Government to advance Resolution 2334.

We were critical of Foreign Affairs Minister Hon Gerry Brownlee’s recent comments on the Resolution and are calling on the Government stand by the Resolution. The resolution is balanced and also recognises the Palestinian authority must also take steps to implement the two state solution and control violence against Israel.”

It is good to know that Labour stands by Resolution 2334 but what does that mean in practice?The Israeli Premier, Benjamin Netanyahu, greeted with scorn and defiance last year's passing ofthe Resolution. More recently, on 28 August, in a speech delivered in the Occupied Palestinian West Bank to celebrate 50 years of violent Israeli oppression of the Palestinian people there, he proudly boasted: “We will deepen our roots, build, strengthen and settle” and just to make it absolutely clear that he views agreements, international law, the Palestinian people and the world community with contempt, he uncompromisingly declared that “we are here to stay forever”.

What does the Labour Party believe was the purpose of New Zealand's sponsoring of Security Council Resolution 2334?

What does the Labour Party mean when it calls on the Government to “stand by the Resolution.”?

Does that mean that the Labour Party will call for sanctions against Israel in order to enforcedue observance of international law?

If not, then how does Labour believe Netanyahu's recalcitrance and clearly expressed intention to continue to violate international law should be dealt with?

The French and Belgian Governments are the latest to condemn Israel's wanton and entirely unjustified violations. A daily press briefing by the French Ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs on 28 August noted that: “France condemns the dismantling of educational facilities over the last few days by the Israeli authorities in Area C of the Palestinian Territories: a school was demolished on August 22 in the village of Jubbet adh Dhib, a kindergarten in the community of Jabal al Baba was destroyed on August 21, solar panels providing electricity to a school were seized on August 9 in the community of Abu Nuwar.” This behaviour is by no means new; just after they were built in February 2016, school buildings funded by France were seized by Israel.

During the first six months of 2017, Israel destroyed 259 buildings in East Jerusalem, while announcing or approving plans to build more than 10,000 new illegal settlement units. That is three times more than were built in 2016. It seems Resolution 2334 is of little consequence to Israel, so long as there is no price to pay for ignoring it.

David Parker's reply to Debbie Abbas commented: “The resolution is balanced and also recognises the Palestinian authority must also take steps to implement the two state solution and control violence against Israel.”

Does the New Zealand Labour Party believe that the Palestinian people have absolutely no right to resist armed oppression and violence? Does the Labour Party's Spokesperson for Foreign Affairs believe that there is an equivalence between a boy, armed with a slingshot, and a tank imposed by a nuclear-armed foreign power, menacing the youngster's neighbourhood? We ask Mr Parker if he recognises that Israel has destroyed many Palestinian homes, schools and hospitals and, if he does, whether he knows of any Israeli homes, schools and hospitals that have been destroyed by Palestinians.

Richard Falk, the UN Special Rapporteur on Palestinian human rights and professor of international law at Princeton University, has written that “in international law, Palestinian resistance to occupation is a legally protected right…Israel’s failures to abide by international law, as a belligerent occupant, [are] a fundamental denial of the right of self-determination, and more generally of respect for the framework of belligerent occupation — giving rise to a Palestinian right of resistance.”

It should be evident by now that Western leniency towards the Zionist state has achieved nothing but greater resolve by Israel to defy the international community. Opinion polls show that ordinary citizens see this as a major threat to world peace and security. The BDS movement is a leading example of non-violent grassroots pressure upon Israel to rejoin the world community byending its violations of international humanitarian law. Unfortunately, in his reply, David Parker declined to define Labour's policy towards the international BDS movement.

Debbie Abbas also asked if the Labour Party would be willing to discontinue National'sdiscriminatory favouritism towards Israel in its granting of an automatic one-year working holiday visa to all and any Israeli while refusing to extend the same privilege to Palestinians. The Labour Party's Spokesperson for Foreign Affairs also avoided anwering this question.

During this run-up to the General Election we remind ourselves that, by focusing public attention on bringing justice to Israel/Palestine, ordinary people around the world can help to restore justice and respect for international law. The defenceless Palestinian people cannot liberate themselves. As sponsors of UNSC Resolution 2334, it is New Zealand's responsibility to encourage the UN to deal resolutely with Israel's defiance the world is watching. We expect and demand of our lawmakers that they unite, with determination, to fight for universal justiceand human rights.


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