Summon the Israeli Ambassador to the Beehive

The latest refusal of the Sharon government to call-off its invasion of Palestinian territory makes it imperative that the international community, including New Zealand, does all in its power to pressure Israel to withdraw, Green Party Foreign Affairs spokesperson Keith Locke said today.

“A number of countries have broken off diplomatic contact with Israel,” said Keith Locke. “If we don’t do that then at least we should take the next strongest move and have the Acting Prime Minister summon the Israeli Ambassador to the Beehive. We can’t relax after Phil Goff’s critical statement on Monday.

“We’ve just got to keep the pressure on. An estimated 500 Palestinians have died in the fortnight since Sharon unleashed the Israeli war machine on the Palestinian townships. Add to that toll the dozens of Israeli dead and you have a crisis of sufficient magnitude for New Zealand to act in the most forthright manner.

“We are leading the world in taking a tough line against Robert Mugabe. What about showing the same determination against the murderous activities of Ariel Sharon?

“Let me make it quite clear: we don’t blame Israelis for the actions of the Sharon government: in fact, we salute those reservists who are refusing to serve on the West Bank. Nor do we condone the actions of Palestinian suicide bombers who target innocent civilians.

“What the Sharon regime must understand is that its actions are only fuelling the cycle of violence. Continued occupation of Palestinian territory and military operations directed against the Palestinian people will only breed a new generation of suicide bombers.

“If history teaches us anything, it teaches us that violence begets violence.

“It is a sad irony that the latest Middle East tragedy is unfolding at the same time as revelations come to light about the dereliction of Dutch peacekeeping troops in failing to prevent the massacre of Moslems in Srebrenica, during the Bosnian war.

“Now, it is the international community, including New Zealand, that is permitting the massacre of hundreds of Palestinians and Israelis by not doing all it can to stop it.”