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Asia Pacific Report

The leader of a New Zealand solidarity group of Palestinian self-determination supporters has accused the country’s Foreign Minister Winston Peters of making a “bluff and bluster” speech at the United Nations that was misleading about inaction at home.

National chair John Minto of the Palestine Solidarity Network Aotearoa (PSNA) said in a statement today the Peters speech at the UN General Assembly yesterday was “bluff and bluster . . . [and] a classic case of doing one thing at home and saying another for overseas audiences”.

He said the speech “fooled nobody” in New Zealand.

In his UNGA speech, Peters described Israel’s war on Gaza as an “utter catastrophe” and labelled the besieged enclave a “wasteland”.

He went on to say Israel could “not be under any misconceptions as to its legal obligations”.

Peters also condemned the use of the veto in the UN Security Council five times to block ceasefire resolutions, and Israel’s continued building of illegal settlements on Palestinian land, saying the “misguided notion” and forced displacement of Palestinians “imperil the two-state solution”.

Minto admitted that “these were strong words” but he added that they were “meaningless in the context of what the government has failed to do at home”.

The PSNA chair said Peters had not told his international audience that the New Zealand government had:

  • Refused to stop New Zealand military exports which support Israel’s war on Gaza;
  • Refused (and still refuses) to condemn Israel for any of its war crimes such as collective punishment, the mass slaughter of over 33,000 Palestinians — mostly women and children — the targeting of aid workers and deliberate starvation of Gaza’s Palestinian population;
  • Refused (and still refuses) to call for an immediate permanent ceasefire in Gaza;
  • Refused (and still refuses) to reinstate funding for UNRWA (let alone doubling its funding and bringing forward payments which the government has been urged to do);
  • Refused (and still refuses) to withdraw from the US war to target Yemen which is acting to oppose Israel’s genocide of Palestinians;
  • Refused (and still refuses) to support or join South Africa’s genocide case against Israel at the International Court of Justice;
  • Refused (and still refuses) to shut down the Israeli Embassy; and
  • Refused (and still refuses) to grant humanitarian visas for Palestinians with family in New Zealand

“Winston Peters stands with the US/Israel on Gaza in every important respect but has tried to give a different impression to the United Nations,” Minto said.

“There was nothing in his speech which holds Israel to account for its war crimes — not even a single punctuation mark.

“It was a Janus-faced performance at the United Nations.”

UN considers Palestine membership bid
Meanwhile, Palestine’s ambassador at the United Nations, speaking earlier than Peters, was optimistic about the occupied territory’s bid for full membership at the UN. The bid has been referred to a Security Council committee.

“This is a historic moment again,” said Ambassador Riyad Mansour.

The committee is expected to make a decision about Palestine’s status later this month, said Vanessa Frazier, Malta’s UN ambassador.

Al Jazeera’s Gabriel Elizondo is monitoring the latest developments at UN headquarters.

He said the last time Palestine’s bid for full UN membership got this far in 2011, it failed primarily because the US threatened to veto it.

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