NZ's recent history with Israel - overview
Wed, 20 Jul 2011 1:40p.m.
By Lloyd Burr
New Zealand has had an awkward relationship with Israel in recent years, but until today diplomacy between the two countries was starting to become more cordial.
A suspicious series of events on the day of February’s earthquake in Christchurch surfaced this morning, with the Southland Times alleging an Israeli who was killed in the quake was part of a team of spies.
New Zealand’s diplomatic relationship with Israel has fluctuated over the last decade and today’s allegations add another layer.
In 2002, the Israeli Government pulled its embassy out of New Zealand as part of what they called “global cost-cutting measures” and their Australian Ambassador, based in Canberra, became New Zealand’s non-resident ambassador.
Then in 2004, two Israeli intelligence (Mossad) agents, Eli Cara, 50, and Uriel Kelman, 31, were caught and jailed for trying to illegally obtain New Zealand passports.
A third suspected Mossad agent, former Israeli Europe-based diplomat Zev William Barkan, 37, stole the identity of a tetraplegic Aucklander to fraudulently obtain his passport.
The police also sought another person who they thought were linked to passport fraud.
Helen Clark, who was Prime Minister at the time, said she had no doubt they were Israeli Government operatives and suspended high-level diplomatic relations between the two nations.
Tensions remained high until Israel apologised to the New Zealand Government a year later in 2005.
Ms Clark’s response was described by former United States Ambassador Charles Swindells as the “strongest diplomatic retaliation in the 20 years" since the Rainbow Warrior bombing.
Four years later, Jewish news service Jewish Telegraph Agency reported bilateral relations had since thawed, "helped in part by the defeat of Helen Clark and her largely hostile Labour Party at the 2008 polls".
They reported that “the new Prime Minister, John Key, was the son of a Jewish refugee from Austria who had family living in Israel”.
In 2010, Israel’s Government re-opened their embassy in New Zealand after a hiatus of over seven years.
But tensions rose again last year when the Israeli Government took custody of New Zealander Nicola Enchmarch during their raids of a flotilla destined for Palestine.
Foreign Minister Murray McCully said he told Israel at the time “there would be serious international scrutiny of the incident and the causes of it and that they would have serious questions to answer”.
He was criticised by the Green Party as “pussyfooting around [and should] condemn the murderous Israeli assault” and by Labour for not having a strong enough stance.
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17/12/2012 9:17:19 p.m.
Suzy Walker wrote:
Israel is Gods country and whoever touches it is in BIG TROUBLE...Look at history....
19/12/2011 8:41:25 p.m.
I dont like JOHN kEY. Funny he said he is an atheist. A redeeming feature is that he is Jewish at least.
21/07/2011 9:46:10 a.m.
Israel has no place meddling here. They need to front up and say what was going on. You can throw around all the anti-Semite labels you like, but it merely displays your own racism. This is about the Israeli Government and their meddling. Their agents have been found trying to procure NZ passports in the past and they took a year to apologise. Why did they need NZ passports? Why a year? Why did this person have multiple passports? Insofar as I am concerned, we don't need diplomatic relations with a terrorist organisations such as the Israeli Government.
21/07/2011 9:00:57 a.m.
At the Christchurch memorial service a young couple approached me in my social welfare vest and asked if I would take a photo of them with the stage in the background. They were a young Israeli couple living in Australia coming over to the service to grieve the lost of their friends, the israelis who died. They were just ordinary people. It doesn't make sense that they would make this trip if they weren't.
21/07/2011 2:21:16 a.m.
I agree with Alison. This is not about the Jewish people, there are many decent peace loving Jews in the world, this is about Israel, a racist country which insists on having its nose in other countries's businesses.
Mossad pokes its nose everywhere, research how many scandals they've had in the US. They were also present in Iraq and now they're meddling with New Zealand for some reason. If Mr. Keys has relatives in Israel then chances are he's at the very least pro Zionist, which means his priorities will most likely be with Israel.
20/07/2011 6:28:25 p.m.
If any other country had done the same thing we would all be baying for blood...this is nothing to do with the Jewish faith and everything to do with the regime in charge of Israel. Stop throwing the anti-semite label around...the Israeli government are bad bad people.
20/07/2011 4:48:55 p.m.
Jewish news service Jewish Telegraph Agency reported that “the new Prime Minister, John Key, was the son of a Jewish refugee from Austria who had family living in Israel”. these reports on this site make it very interesting with mr key being jewish and the fact that mr key is not coming out with any any words that will end the story that is generating so much interest. we have good bilateral relations with Israel and we need to protect that.
20/07/2011 4:26:01 p.m.
You speak for yourself ernie.Natter.
20/07/2011 4:13:58 p.m.
What's the problem with NZ people's Israel-hatred? Is it because of sizable population of Muslims> Entrenched presence of Left ("progressives")? The stories verge on absolute paranoia as if NZ had any assets deemed critical to the Jewish State's survival in the hostile Middle East. Puzzling stuff. I thought NZ was all about sheep and pretty scenery. Now I'm confused.
20/07/2011 3:27:53 p.m.
Another Israel bashing - poor wee tiny Israel (fits into NZ 13 times). Wouldn't you think that most New Zealanders would be happy that there were young Israelis in this country enjoying the big OE considering they are the only country with a true democracy in the Middle East? I would think the PM has better things to do and should allow the grieving family of the Israeli young man who lost his life to just get on with grieving rather than to read about their son being a spy. The editor of the South Island newspaper should also get his facts correct - the Israeli ambassador was not based in Canberra at the time of the earthquake but was here living in NZ as the NZ Israeli ambassador. Perhaps some of his other claims are also wrong? Just a thought.
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