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Labour Party’s Manifesto Commitment To Extend Diplomatic Recognition To The State Of Palestine Is Welcomed

Sunday, 1 October 2023

Justice for Palestine and Alternative Jewish Voices welcome the Labour Party’s announcement that if elected it will extend diplomatic recognition to the state of Palestine, by inviting the Head of the General Delegation of Palestine to present their credentials as an Ambassador to New Zealand [1]. In taking this stance New Zealand would be joining the majority of UN member states - 139 of 193 already recognise Palestine as a state. This includes others who, like New Zealand, pride themselves on their independent and principled foreign policy, such as Sweden [2], and Iceland.

Today the Labour Party has joined the growing weight of global opinion that recognising Palestinian statehood is a prerequisite for a just solution in Israel / Palestine, including the two-state solution that New Zealand has long supported. Such a solution is increasingly under threat by the violent expansion of Israeli settlements into the Occupied Palestinian Territories, which are illegal at international law [3].

Responding to Israel’s increasingly flagrant violations of international law and the basic human rights of Palestinians, many and diverse voices are pushing for diplomatic recognition of

Palestine and accountability for Israel, in order to level the ground for any negotiations towards peace. This includes, among many others, former Israeli ambassador and director general of Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Alon Liel,[4] Gareth Evans, former Australian foreign Minister [5], and the UN Special Rapporteur, Francesca Albanese, who described “the recognition of the Palestinian people’s fundamental right to determine their political, social and economic status and develop as a people, free from foreign occupation, rule and exploitation” as the “ critical issue” in addressing the situation in Palestine [6].

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Marilyn Garson of Alternative Jewish Voices added, “Remember that Palestine predates Israel.

We welcome Labour’s commitment to let Palestine speak with its own diplomatic voice about its own future. That’s a prerequisite for any solution grounded in the rights of all who live between the river and the sea.”

Justice for Palestine spokesperson, Neil Ballantyne, said “it’s great to see the Labour Party joining the Green Party in making a commitment to recognise Palestine if elected. In doing so they are continuing Aotearoa New Zealand’s tradition of taking independent and principled stances on foreign policy issues from nuclear free to standing up against apartheid.”

Neil continued “We have faith that just as ordinary New Zealanders were not prepared to stand by in silence while the South African government maintained an apartheid regime, we will not be silent while Palestinians suffer similar indignities and will reward those politicians who are taking this courageous stance.” [7]

Notes:

[1] See p. 64 - 65: labour_manifesto_2023.pdf (documentcloud.org)

[2] After recognising Palestine in 2014, the Swedish government now calls on other states to recognise Palestine arguing that the two-state solutions requires “mutual recognition and a desire for peaceful coexistence”: Badarin, E. (2020). States recognition in foreign policy: The case of Sweden’s recognition of Palestine. Foreign Policy Analysis, 16(1), 78–97.

https://doi.org/10.1093/fpa/ory019

[3] As recognised in the UN Security Council Resolution 2334 sponsored by New Zealand under the leadership of the National Government’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Murray McCully.

[4] Alon Liel, a former Israeli ambassador and director general of their Ministry of Foreign Affairs, recently wrote in support of the need to recognise Palestine now: "The Benjamin Netanyahu-led ultranationalist government is racing towards annexation of the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT), a manoeuvre which will not only end any chance of a two-state outcome, but also permanently entrench the daily humanitarian and anti-democratic nightmare that the Israeli occupation has become."

[5] Gareth Evans, former Australian foreign Minister, recently dismissed the argument that recognition would destroy the peace process, saying the argument has no credibility "in the face of Israel’s breathtaking intransigence, being taken to ever more alarming new heights by the Netanyahu government. If the two-state solution is in fact dead, it is the Israeli settlement program that has killed it."

[6] UN General Assembly Report of the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian territories occupied since 1967, Francesca Albanese (A/77/356) (21 September 2022), at para 11. Available at: https://www.un.org/unispal/wp-content/uploads/2022/10/A.77.356_210922.pdf

[7] Numerous major international human rights organisations have reported that Israel is an apartheid regime, including Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, B’tselem, and the former UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the occupied Palestinian Territories. The International Convention on the Suppression and Punishment of the Crime of Apartheid defines “apartheid”, the systematic oppression of one racial group of persons over another, as a crime against humanity. Daily life for Palestinians living under the Israeli apartheid regime is unbearable and inhumane.

Background on Justice for Palestine, Alternative Jewish Voices and the campaign to recognise Palestinian statehood

Justice for Palestine is a human rights organisation working to promote justice, peace and freedom for the Palestinian people. Justice for Palestine is a democratic, membership organisation that works to educate and inform New Zealanders about issues relating to Palestine and to advocate for New Zealand to contribute to international solidarity with Palestinian efforts to achieve equal rights.

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