The recent escalation of tensions in Israel and Gaza has led to unrest in the Middle East and the globe more broadly. However, New Zealand has yet to propose a fusible resolution for the Middle Eastern conflict. This sparked pro Palestinian protests within its borders as fears mount about lasting peace in the contentious region.
Following the airstrikes in Israel-Gaza, New Zealand Greens MP, Golriz Ghahraman, called for a motion to debate a two-state solution to the ongoing Isreal-Palestine crisis. However, her motion was denied by the ACT Party, the National Party and the Labour government. ACT Foreign Affairs Spokeswoman, Nanaia Cybele Mahuta, held that although the government supports a two-state solution, the motion for its debate was denied because of a concerning tweet from Greens MP, Ricardo Menendez March. The tweet read: “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free!”. This phrase originates from Hamas: a militant organization that has explicitly stated its agency is to eradicate Israel from the Middle East. Therefore, many considered the tweet to be inappropriate as it suggested the justification of violence in the region.
New Zealand Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern, condemned both sides for using means of violence that exceeded measure’s of self defense and called for a ceasefire so that diplomatic negotiations could proceed. However, the Labour government has been unsuccessful in proposing a fruitful and long term resolution to the humanitarian crisis. Many find New Zealand’s irresolute response to the actions of Israel and Hamas to be contradictory. At a United Nations Security Council (UNSC) conference in 2016, the New Zealand delegation sponsored a two state resolution in Isreal-Palestine in light of growing Israeli settlements in Gaza and the West Bank. Golriz Ghahraman finds it to be unsettling that a controversial tweet blocked the opportunity to debate meaningful change in the Middle East.
Following the denial of the two-state motion, civilian rallies across New Zealand have protested the underwhelming condemnation of Hamas, and Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu more specifically. The court of public opinion holds that Israel should face serious sanctions in light of its war crimes against primarily civilian populations in Gaza.
Gaza has been facing a growing humanitarian crisis for decades; this over populated region largely lacks access to basic resources and services. Following the counter strikes of the Israeli Defense Forces, the situation in Gaza has worsened. The national rallies in New Zealand largely sympathize with Palestinians that have faced increased insecurity in light of rising ethno-nationalist tensions.
The Role of the International Community:
Egyptian President, Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi, successfully brokered a bilateral ceasefire agreement between the historic rivals on May 21, 2021. The President stated that the US is dedicated to working alongside the United Nations and the Palestinian Authority in an effort to provide sufficient humanitarian assistance to Gaza. Moreover, Hamas has reverted its infamous agency to eradicate the Israeli state and agreed to a two-state solution that implies a return to the 1967 Israeli borders. Although these negotiations have sparked hope for new beginnings in the Middle East, the international community will have to take a stand against the imperialist acts of Isreal in order for long term peace to be reached.
Joe Biden has stated that the US supports the defensive actions of Israel, as it was faced with an overt threat to its national soveringty. Therefore the United States justified its continued militarization of the Israeli state, despite critics that this fuels further instability in Israel-Palestine.
The Labour government of New Zealand has remained silent on US involvement in the region despite global unrest. The American superpower is one of the permanent members of the UNSC and subsequently holds veto power. Interestingly, the UNSC has been unsuccessful in reaching a resolution to the crisis. This breeds fears that patterns of instability in the Middle East are far from over.