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Thursday, May 4, 2017

Last December, New Zealand was one of the major players pushing for an anti-Israel resolution at the Security Council. Israeli PM Binyamin Netanyahu reacted furiously , telling New Zealand Foreign Minister Murray McCully that this was a "declaration of war" and withdrawing Israel's ambassador to New Zealand.

Israel officially downgraded its relations with New Zealand in February.

Now, the new Foreign Ministe rof New Zealand wants to repair relations:
New Foreign Affairs Minister Gerry Brownlee has revealed he has moved swiftly to try to restore diplomatic relations with Israel.

Soon after receiving his ministerial warrant on Tuesday, he wrote to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu holding out an olive branch.

"I've sent a letter to Mr Netanyahu yesterday firstly congratulating them on their national day but expressing a desire for the Israeli-New Zealand relationship to get back on track and to do that by recognising that we've got synergies and innovation and agriculture and various other things like that."

Brownlee told the Herald this morning that he expected that the letter would enable the respective foreign ministries to start discussion with a view to re-establishing diplomatic connection.

Mr Browlee said New Zealand should not "pronounce" how either party involved in Middle Eastern policy should behave, beyond condemning terrorism.

When asked whether his view contradicted the substance of the resolution, Mr Brownlee said in the end the solution to conflict in the Middle East would be achieved by the people who live there - "that's my view".

"The value of any resolution is in how much support it gets and the willingness of the parties who are having the resolution imposed upon them to accept what's in it.

"I think it's just premature."

When questioned further about that statement, Mr Brownlee said when a country was looking at a resolution that was "demanding an outcome", it was important to know an outcome was possible.

"So I'm not going to make a statement about whether we were right or wrong ... what we have got is a relationship with Israel which is an important country in that part of the world for stability in that part of the world."

With the notable exception of the premiership of Menachem Begin, Israel has for too long acted as a beggar in world politics, pleading to be treated as any other nation. The recent moves by Netanyahu, such as this one and his refusal to meet the German FM after finding out he was to meet with anti-Israel NGO Breaking the Silence, is a welcome change to that policy.

This new, more aggressive foreign policy is paying off.

No other nation, let alone a military and scientific powerhouse, would allow itself to be treated with the disrespect that Israel has. The usual reaction had been to ignore the slights, downplaying the importance of international politics as mostly hot air. But  Israel is finally realizing that there are long-term consequences to allowing itself to be treated with disrespect.

More importantly, Israel does not lose leverage with other nations when it exercises its diplomatic options - instead, Israel's new muscularity in foreign affairs is paying off, we see in New Zealand and as even the new UNESCO resolution guaranteed to pass garnered far less support than previous ones.

Israel is finally pushing Western nations to stop their reflexive support of what are often Arab-sponsored libelous resolutions. And the Western nations are responding. The situation is completely different than only a couple of years ago. Haaretz and +972 might whine, but the world doesn't respect a nation without self-respect.

Nice guys really do finish last, and it is well past time for Israel to be the only nice guy in the Middle East.

(h/t Zvi)

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