Trading Military Equipment With Israel Is A Human Rights Outrage
Revelations that foreign affairs officials have approved the sale of military equipment to a host of human-rights-abusing countries, including Israel, is an outrage.
In recent years foreign affairs has been dominated by trade priorities with concerns for human rights sidelined. Senior foreign affairs staff at all levels have advised successive ministers of foreign affairs to prioritise trade above everything else.
The tragic outcome was seen in last night’s television one story.
In Israel’s case the situation is even more galling because New Zealand has also been importing military equipment from Israel which has been “battle-tested” on the civilian Palestinian population.
In 2012 the New Zealand Superfund withdrew investments from Israel’s largest weapons manufacturer, Elbit Systems Limited, because it was involved in grave breaches of international law through building Israel’s “apartheid wall” which the International Court of Justice declared in serious breach of international law.
Despite this the New Zealand Defence Force continues to purchase military equipment from Elbit Systems.
Meanwhile Minister of Foreign Affairs Nanaia Mahuta is advised by these same officials not to speak out about Israeli human rights abuses against Palestinians; Indonesian human rights abuses against the people of West Papua or stop the importation of “blood phosphate” from Western Sahara. Ironically these three cases all involve struggles for self-determination by indigenous people against colonisation - something Nanaia Mahuta said would be a priority for her.
The only human rights abuses the government has spoken out about are in China, Hong King and Myanmar because these are what our five eyes “allies”, led by the US, want us to talk about rather than the human rights crimes of America’s friends.
The government needs to wrench control of official advice from the trade junkies and US-first-at-all-costs officials in the Minister Foreign Affairs.
We should speak clearly against human rights abuses wherever they occur.