New Zealand's Green Party leader and Napier candidate Paul Bailey urged the government to expel the Israeli ambassador from the country, reported New Zealand Herald. The Israeli ambassador Yosef Livne was on a visit to the Bay region of New Zealnd since Tuesday.
There he was greeted with pro and anti demonstrators. The Israel envoy addressed a meeting at the New Zealand Institute of International Affairs Hawke's Bay Branch at Havelock North Club. The meeting was also disrupted by protests from anti-Israel demonstrators. The anti Israel protests were led by Napier City councillor Maxine Boag.
A pro-Israel demonstration also gathered on the corner of Joll Road and Campbell Street when the ambassador's arrived. They carried Israeli flags and placards hailing Israel as the true democracy in the Middle East.
Cut Diplomatic Ties
Napier candidate Paul Bailey stood with a Green Party flag and spoke urging the government to sever diplomatic ties with Israel and expel the ambassador. Bailey justified his demand saying the expulsion would send a message to the international community that New Zealand finds Israel's behaviour in Gaza unacceptable.
However, Labour Party's Napier candidate Stuart Nash and Wayne Walford of National dismissed the demand and said the Israeli ambassador should stay.
The ambassador expressed hurt at the demand for expulsion and said he was sorry to hear it. He said the demand was misguided and hoped the New Zealand government will not heed to it.
Prime Minister John Key had already rejected such demands. He told reporters that he will not support any move for expelling the ambassador. He noted that his Government had already lodged the country's feelings by calling in Livne. The PM noted that if the ambassador was sent back to Tel Aviv, there will be no channel to register such concerns.
The Labour defence spokesman David Shearer had also raised concerns about NZ Super Fund maintaining a shareholding in Israel Chemicals. He charged the comoany was into the business of producing white phosphorus, used in warfare. The NZ Super Fund of $26 billion maintains a shareholding in Israel Chemicals.
In 2009, Amnesty International had reported that the Israeli army had used white phosphorus in Gaza City. The white phosphorus used for shells is being produced by the Israel Chemicals' subsidiary ICL Performance Products.