New Zealand Prime Minister Helen Clark is an unofficial contender for this position, and recent activities in the New Zealand Parliament demonstrate ominous signs for Israel. Clark has dismissed suggestions of her candidacy as “fiction”, yet speculation regarding her emergence as a serious applicant is now rife.
Ruling against Israel
On 5 September 2006 a motion in the New Zealand Parliament was granted leave, and passed unanimously at the start of Parliamentary Question Time. The motion read as follows:
“That this House supports the right of parliamentarians to freely pursue their duties; notes the opposition of the Inter-Parliamentary Union and the European Parliament to Israel's arrest of more than 20 members of the Palestinian parliament; and calls for the immediate and unconditional release of the Palestinian Speaker Abdelaiziz El-Dweik, the Deputy Prime Minister Naser al-Shaer, and the other arrested Ministers and members of the Palestinian Parliament.”
The motion, in response to the release of kidnapped Fox journalists Olaf Wiig and Steve Centanni was sponsored by Keith Locke, a member of The Green Party, an opposition party with a co-operation agreement with the current government.
In supporting the motion, Locke, a self proclaimed Human Rights spokesperson, stated that “It’s time for the New Zealand Government to return the favor it was granted by Palestinian politicians who helped in the release of captured cameraman Olaf Wiig.”
“Our government has been praising the critical role Palestinian politicians played in Olaf Wiig’s release. We should be returning the favor and calling for our fellow Palestinian parliamentarians to be freed.”
Mr Locke’s other recent representations surrounding Lebanon include allegations that Israel has engaged in slaughter, war crimes, collective punishment, and breaches of the Fourth Geneva Convention.
Mr Locke assists to cement the reputation of New Zealand’s current administration as one that will openly build relationships with the promulgators and sponsors of terrorism. In doing so he unwittingly aids the credentials of Helen Clark in her yet to be declared UN candidacy.
A significant motion
The motion put to the New Zealand Parliament passed through the channels of regular Government business without dissent. No debate or comments from other Parliamentarians accompanied the endorsement of this statement.
New Zealand has effectively declared that that the arrested members of the Hamas Government are political hostages, a signal that will also appeal to the selection committee at the United Nations.
Helen Clark knows how to take a tough stance. However her tough stance does not extend to standing up to radical Islam, or siding against those who legitimize terrorism as a struggle for freedom. Even more so, she knows how to apply a double standard to affairs concerning Israel.
New Zealand is in the esteemed company of the European Parliament in protesting the arrests of Hamas Parliamentarians. In New Zealand’s case, a full compliment of elected representatives has passed condemnation on Israel without reference to the fact that Hamas has publicly claimed responsibility for the abduction of Gilad Shalit, and without regard to the nature and political ambitions of the movement.
Significantly, Hamas remains defined and outlawed by the neighboring Government of Australia as a terrorist organization. Helen Clark’s Australian counterpart, John Howard, has consistently articulated a realistic understanding of Israel’s predicament, and has led his countries Middle Eastern foreign policy forward on a platform which is diametrically opposite to that of New Zealand.
Watch this space
Israeli’s should be concerned by the NZ Parliamentary motion for its broader implications.
Although Clark has rejected local speculation that she is interested in the UN Post, the suggestion has garnered non-partisan political support from across New Zealand. Amongst an auspicious list of potential candidates, Clark has a sufficient track record of stirring up anti-Israeli sentiment, capitalizing on Israel’s diplomatic shortcomings, and taking mileage from every political opportunity that is available to her at Israel’s expense.
Clark may be seen by many of Israel’s adversaries to be suitably qualified to maintain the entrenched and obsessive anti-Israel bias that is inherent within the UN.
This motion passed within the New Zealand Parliament must not be taken lightly in the context of Israel’s recently reconstructed foreign relations with that country. The motion should be seen as far more than a morally repugnant statement, sponsored by a mere politician and political party that have maintained an anti-Israel stance since its formation.
It is emerging proof that mainstream and significant holders of political office can leverage off ignorance-based Israel bashing to advance their international political standing to the hostile majority.
It is now up to the designers of Israel’s foreign policy to fully analyze the Parliamentary transcripts and party-room activity surrounding the presentation of this motion, and to ensure that it does not slip by unnoticed or without comment.
To allow that would be both a boost to Clarks rumored candidacy to be the next Kofi Annan. It would also allow this to pass as suitable training for Clark to preside over and sanction further and far more damaging rebukes of Israel in the international arena.
Andrew Blitz is a freelance writer and former New Zealander now residing in Australia