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National | Gaza

Peters’ call for ‘urgent steps towards establishing a ceasefire’ not enough

Foreign Affairs Minister Winston Peters has called all parties involved in the Gaza conflict, including countries with influence in the region, to take urgent steps towards establishing a ceasefire.

In Parliament today he announced the government’s position in condemning the Hamas terror attacks of October 7 and called for the release of all hostages.

Peters said in Parliament that the House, “Express grave concern at the ongoing violence in Israel and the occupied Palestinian Territories, unequivocally condemn the Hamas terrorist attack on 7 October 2023 and call for the release on all hostages, call on all parties involved in the conflict as well as all countries with influence in the region take urgent steps towards establishing a ceasefire, recognising Israel’s right to defend itself in accordance with international law, and that all civilians be protected from armed conflict, affirm that a lasting solution to the conflict will only be achieved by peaceful means and that action to revive the Middle East Peace Process is critical”.

National Chair of the Palestine Solidarity Network Aotearoa John Minto said it was a “cowardly, anti-Palestinian parliamentary motion” and failed to identify those responsible for the mass slaughter of Palestinian civilians and failed to condemn the slaughter of Palestinian civilians.

“We were pleased to see the word genocide has finally reached the New Zealand parliament with a clear refreshing speech from Damien O’Connor who described the reality of life for Palestinians in Gaza, says Minto.

“But instead of sheeting home responsibility for the genocide the government motion contained not a single word of criticism of Israel – not even a peep. The parliamentary motion was a feeble, anti-Palestinian motion.”

The Green Party’s Golriz Ghahraman says it was “nice to see the minister on the first day back making a statement on the atrocities being committed in Palestine.”

“What I would also like to see is the numbers of lives lost be inserted into the motion on the record - that’s more than 16,000 Palestinians, including more than 7000 children and 1200 Israeli lives, so to give the full context of the conflict.”

Call for an immediate ceasefire

However, Ghahraman says she’s disappointed Prime Minister Christopher Luxon has not made a statement.

“We would expect the prime minister himself to also step up and we would expect that the government’s position is in line with global experts like the UN Secretary-General, like the International Committee of the Red Cross, every humanitarian agency on the ground, which is to call for an immediate unconditional ceasefire.”

Meanwhile, two rallies were held in Wellington today, one led by Destiny Church leader Brian Tamaki and the other opposing, led by the Pōneke Anti-fascist Coalition.

Destiny Church leader Brian Tamaki presented a petition to MPs calling for Hamas to be declared a terrorist organisation in New Zealand, and for any MPs who support them to be expelled from Parliament.

“Don’t forget October 7, the atrocities of beheading, the brutality the burning bodies and raping. We’re quick to go pro-Palestine but I think we need to understand Hamas, Hezbollah and their allies. They are terrorists and our new government needs to declare that to our country.”

Dr Catherine Love, of Te Ātiawa and Ngāti Ruanui, travelled from Taranaki to join the opposing rally.

“I can’t sit on my backside and watch it coming into my lounge on TV without standing up for the people of Palestine. And what happened on October the 7 was bad but it was a response to decades of not having enough food, of apartheid and an apartheid regime.”

Peters told Parliament, “The conflict will only be achieved by peaceful means and that action to revive the Middle East to peace process is critical. Know that the government will continue its efforts to help all New Zealanders impacted by the conflict.”

Minto says marches, rallies and vigils are expected to take place across the country again this weekend.