New Zealand must stand up to the bullies

The Greens are defending New Zealand’s right to conduct its foreign policy without threat or interference from other states.

“Israeli criticism of Phil Goff’s decision to meet the Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat is a case in point,” Green Foreign Affairs spokesperson Keith Locke said today. “We can’t let other government’s dictate our diplomacy. Bullying is unacceptable whether it comes from Ariel Sharon or George W. Bush.

“If we are to help bring peace to the Middle East we have to have dialogue with all parties. If Mr Goff had bowed to Sharon’s wishes and not met Arafat, we would have lost the respect of the Palestinians.

“The Israeli government will only move down the road to peace if there is strong pressure from the world community. Allowing it to dictate our foreign policy agenda will not help end the suffering.

“Already, Israel has put in 14 ‘reservations’ to the ‘road map’ for peace,’ which may get in the way of further progress towards a settlement.

“If we wish to remain an independent state with a respected voice in world affairs, New Zealand must base its foreign policy on respect for international law, multilateralism and non-alignment, which is why we congratulate Jim Anderton for rejecting America’s criticism of the Prime Minister.

“There is no trade downside in standing up for ourselves. Consumers around the world responded enthusiastically to our ‘clean, green’ image when we became nuclear free. They will be even more likely to buy our products if we are recognised as an independent peacemaker.

“Becoming a client-state of the US will not encourage people to ‘buy New Zealand,'” said Mr Locke.