De facto annexation?

Tēnā koe e te Rangatira, Hon Nanaia Mahuta, Minister of Foreign Affairs,

Wellington Palestine note with concern the statement below issued by the General Delegation of Palestine to Australia, New Zealand and the Pacific.

We are aware that you will shortly be making your own statement related to your new portfolio. We urge you to include condemnation of Israel’s stated intentions to continue expanding illegal settlements on occupied Palestinian territory by opening up tenders for more than 1,200 new structures in the settlement of Givat Hamatos.

Nickolay Mladenov, the UN envoy to the Middle East peace process, has said in a statement, reported in Al Jazeera, “If built, it would further consolidate a ring of settlements between Jerusalem and Bethlehem in the occupied West Bank.”

“It would significantly damage prospects for a future contiguous Palestinian State and for achieving a negotiated two-state solution based on the 1967 lines, with Jerusalem as the capital of both states. Settlement construction is illegal under international law and I call on the authorities to reverse this step.”

In addition, in line with the Briefing on Palestine prepared by Wellington Palestine and Alternative Jewish Voices, we respectfully request you take steps to maintain the viability of a two-state solution by recognizing the State of Palestine.

Nāku noa, nā,

Neil Ballantyne

(Co-Convenor, Wellington Palestine)

PRESS RELEASE from the General Delegation of Palestine to Australia, New Zealand and the Pacific. Issued 17th November 2020

Israel advances plans to escalate strategic settlement expansion in the occupied East Jerusalem

The recent decision by Israeli authorities to escalate settlement expansion through the construction of an entirely new settlement in the Occupied East Jerusalem lands, is deeply alarming.

On 15 November 2020, the Israeli Ministry of Construction and Housing and the Israel Lands Authority called for tenders for 1257 settlement units, to expand developments on the existing settlement of Givat Hamatos.

The significance of this location lies in its strategic positioning between East Jerusalem and Bethlehem. Certainly, the construction of these settlement units would consequently surround the Palestinian neighborhood of the town of Beit Safafa and seal it off from the occupied East Jerusalem and Bethlehem. Indeed, denying Palestinians freedom and access to their lands and creating further obstacles in establishing a viable and contiguous Palestinian State with East Jerusalem as its capital.

Undoubtedly, this is a very dangerous development in Israel’s continuing de facto annexation processes and will subsequently make the viability of a just two state solution unattainable. It is of deep concern and fear that Israel intends on escalating and accelerating its illegal settlement expansion in the short period before President-elect Joe Biden assumes the role of President of the United States on 20 January 2021. In this context, Dr Mohammad Shtayyeh, the Prime Minister of the State of Palestine, tweeted: “We warn the unprecedented dangerous developments in Israeli colonial project that seem to be an escalated and intense attack plan for the ten weeks to impose new status quo before Trump leaves office”.

The General Delegation of Palestine to Australia, New Zealand and the Pacific appreciates the continuous support of the New Zealand government to Palestinian rights and kindly calls on the New Zealand government to condemn Israel’s illegal expansionist policy and continuous annexation processes. In addition, to recognize, without further delay, the State of Palestine on 1967 borders with East Jerusalem as its capital in order to save a viable two-state solution.

Image credit: Ronan Shenhav


Tēnā koe Neil Ballantyne

Thank you for raising this matter.

As noted in our earlier correspondence, New Zealand regularly engages on human rights in Palestine in both bilateral and multilateral settings.

Most recently, New Zealand registered specific concerns about the human rights situation in the occupied Palestinian territories during official talks with Israel in November 2020. This included the issue you have identified, Israel’s opening of tenders for over 1,250 new homes in the East Jerusalem neighbourhood of Givat Hamatos. New Zealand also raised Israel’s recent demolition of the Bedouin Village of Khirbet Humsa in the Jordan Valley. In registering these specific concerns, New Zealand officials underscored that such activities imperilled the prospects for a two state solution.

New Zealand will continue to pursue a principled and balanced approach to the Middle East Peace Process, including support for a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

The two-state solution has been the accepted basis for resolving the Palestinian question for many decades now, enshrined in various international instruments and United Nations Security Council resolutions.

Heoi anō

Hon Nanaia Mahuta

Minister of Foreign Affairs

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