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Recognising Palestine Should Be The First Step For Our New Minister Of Foreign Affairs

Recognising Palestine should be the first policy announcement of our new Foreign Minister after they are announced next week.

Successive New Zealand governments have claimed to take an “even-handed” approach to the Middle East but this is untrue. We have extensive bilateral arrangements with Israel but minimal interaction with Palestinians.

In making this appeal we are endorsing the call from Sh'ma Koleinu – Alternative Jewish Voices for New Zealand to recognise Palestine as a state.

Palestine is already recognised as a state by 138 member countries of the United Nations and the government should push this number to 139.

The final settlement of the Middle East conflict will be found through negotiations based on international law and United Nations resolutions but this is impossible at present because of the extreme imbalance of power between Israel and Palestinians.

How could there be a settlement based on justice if Israel and the US are on one side of the table and Palestinians on the other?

Recognising Palestine as a state will be an important step in helping redress the imbalance and preparing for peace – a situation which will benefit both Palestinians and Israelis.

Recognising Palestine would be the mark of the progressive government Labour claims to be and a welcome break from the contracting out of Foreign Affairs and Defence to New Zealand First in the previous term when Winston Peters was Minister of Foreign Affairs and Ron Mark was Minister of Defence.

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During the last term Israeli brutality persisted unabated, the racist Nation State law was enacted and the intention to unilaterally annex the West Bank was announced while the government turned a blind eye.

The most significant step taken by a New Zealand government to support Palestine in a generation was the previous National government co-sponsoring United Nations Security Council resolution 2334.

Labour can surpass this by recognising Palestine as a state entity in the first 100 days of the new government.

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