Labour Party Pledges Diplomatic Recognition of Palestine
In a significant move that aligns with global sentiments for a just resolution to the Palestinian cause, the Labour Party of New Zealand has announced its intention to extend diplomatic recognition to the state of Palestine if elected. This pledge has garnered support from advocacy groups, including Justice for Palestine and Alternative Jewish Voices.
The Labour Party’s commitment entails inviting the Head of the General Delegation of Palestine to present their credentials as an Ambassador to New Zealand. This action would place New Zealand among the majority of United Nations member states, with 139 out of 193 already recognizing Palestine as a sovereign state. Notably, countries known for their independent and principled foreign policies, such as Sweden and Iceland, have taken similar steps.
The decision reflects New Zealand’s long-standing support for the Palestinian state. However, this solution has come under increasing threat due to the expansion of Israeli settlements into the Occupied Palestinian Territories, a move considered illegal under international law.
The Israeli persistent violations of international law and the basic human rights of Palestinians have prompted diverse voices to call for diplomatic recognition of Palestine and accountability for the Israeli occupation. This is seen as a necessary step to create a level playing field for future peace negotiations. Prominent figures advocating for such recognition include former Israeli ambassador and director general of the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Alon Liel, former Australian Foreign Minister Gareth Evans, and UN Special Rapporteur Francesca Albanese. They highlight the fundamental right of the Palestinian people to determine their political, social, and economic status free from foreign occupation, rule, and exploitation.
Marilyn Garson of Alternative Jewish Voices emphasized the historical context, stating, “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.”
Neil Ballantyne, spokesperson for Justice for Palestine, expressed enthusiasm for the Labour Party’s stance, noting its alignment with the Green Party’s commitment to recognizing Palestine if elected. He stated, “In doing so, they are continuing Aotearoa New Zealand’s tradition of taking independent and principled stances on foreign policy issues, from nuclear disarmament to standing up against apartheid.”
Neil Ballantyne 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.”
The Labour Party’s announcement signals a significant step forward in New Zealand’s foreign policy stance and aligns with international efforts to address the ongoing Israeli occupation for Palestine.