Israel, New Zealand Repair Ties; Ambassador to Return to Wellington

Yerushalayim (TPS) – Israel and New Zealand resolved a five-month diplomatic rift Tuesday, with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu instructing Foreign Ministry Director General Yuval Rotem to notify New Zealand authorities that Ambassador Itzhak Gerberg would be returning to his post in Wellington.

Relations between the countries soured last December when New Zealand co-sponsored United Security Council Resolution 2334 (together with Senegal, Malaysia, and Venezuela), slamming Israel for “illegal”  settlement activity and violating international law.

Netanyahu recalled Gerberg to Yerushalayim for consultations following the resolution, which was adopted by a 14-0 vote when the United States abstained, rather than vetoing the measure.

A spokesperson for the foreign ministry said he could not confirm whether New Zealand had “apologized” for sponsoring the resolution, but the Prime Minister’s Office released part of a letter from New Zealand Prime Minister Bill English to Prime Minister Netanyahu in which English says “I regret the damage caused to Israel-New Zealand relations as a result of which New Zealand raised UN Security Council Resolution 2334.

“We welcome the return of the Israeli ambassador to Wellington,” English wrote.

The Prime Minister’s Office said that high-level bilateral discussions to repair ties have been taking place over the past several months, culminating in a phone call between Netanyahu and English several days ago.

This announcement follows the end of a similar diplomatic crisis between Israel and Senegal last week. During Netanyahu’s visit to Africa, the Prime Minister Spokesperson’ Office announced Israel would immediately return its ambassador to Senegal while the latter would support Israel’s candidacy as an observer to the African Union.


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