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Israeli Embassy Reopened in Wellington – Opportunities for Conversations?

The Israeli embassy reopened in Wellington on 19 April. This is eight years after Israel closed it down “for financial reasons” in 2002, and 6 years after New Zealand suspended formal diplomatic relations with Israel over attempts by Israeli agents to obtain or forge New Zealand passports. Protest groups are opposed to the embassy, but some want to see it there to enable important “conversations” to take place.

1. Ambassador Tzur has a useful background

The new ambassador, Mr Shemi Tzur, has participated in Middle East peace talks in the 1990s, and held diplomatic posts in South Africa, Turkey, Australia, Fiji and Uzbekistan.  Israeli Embassy reopens NZ Herald 19 April, 2010

2. Protest groups oppose the embassy

Protest groups are predictably opposed to the embassy opening, and have set up a website, called noembassy to carry their message.

The new Israeli ambassador was reported by the Israeli newspaper Haaretz as being jeered by pro-Palestinian protesters when he presented his credentials to the New Zealand Governor General on Friday 7 May Israel envoy to New Zealand greeted by pro-Palestinian jeers

3. Israeli spy shenanigans created a vexed NZ-Israel relationship

The New Zealand-Israel relationship has been a vexed one. New Zealand suspended diplomatic relations in 2004 after it was found that 3 Israelis were involved in forging or illicitly obtaining New Zealand passports. It has now just come out that one of these, “who stole the identity of a tetraplegic Aucklander to fraudulently obtain his passport” in 2004 was also believed by the Dubai authorities to have been involved in assassinating Hamas military commander Mahmoud al-Mabhouh in a Dubai hotel. The Dubai authorities are seeking him. Spy in NZ scandal linked to hit squad By JOHN HARTEVELT – The Dominion Post

4. A sage analysis by Jim Veitch

However, a sage analysis has been provided by in the above New Zealand Herald report by Victoria University Associate Professor Jim Veitch, an expert on international relations.

He said the murder of Mr al-Mabhouh was a ‘major blunder’ by Mossad.
Mossad was very active all over the Western world in getting passports and tracking people from the Islamic world.
The Israelis are just so paranoid about security and protection that they will go to any lengths to make sure that they keep a gap between themselves and those that they perceive to be the enemy, Dr Veitch said.
It’s just normal that they act in this way. We just have to accept that right now, it’s part of what the situation in the world is like

5. Conversations to be had

His most valuable comment, however, was that it was much better to have the Israeli embassy restored in New Zealand. “Having them here means we can have conversations with them.”

As has been mentioned on village-connections, New Zealand villagers have declared a strong interest in peace, especially where there is a threat of nuclear weapons use or their development.

Israel has nuclear weapons, and Iran has a nuclear-development program which could be developed create them should it choose to do so.

There are opportunities with Mr Tzur being here for New Zealand to open up more direct channels of communication to help understand the issues and to help progress Middle East peacemaking.

As has been stressed in other blogs, New Zealand needs to develop a more comprehensive approach to connecting with the various parties to the major disputes in this very fraught part of the world so that it can learn and be able to offer assistance where this is useful and acceptable. Turkey & New Zealand – From World War One Antagonists to Peacemaking Partners?

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