Politics | Gaza war

Labour rates Winston Peters’ UN speech on Israel/Hamas war ‘encouraging’

Labour associate foreign affairs spokesperson Damien O’Connor says Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters’ speech to the UN General Assembly in New York today, which condemned both Hamas and Israel for their parts in the Gaza war was “encouraging”.

Peters, who is also foreign minister, spoke at the 79th session of the general assembly, directing his speech to US President Joe Biden about the war.

O’Connor said the speech about New Zealand’s stance on the conflict should’ve been made earlier but said it was “never too late”.

“It’s nice to see New Zealand and the coalition government put our position as an independent country down on the table for the world to see.”

“It’s important we state our position and call for a ceasefire, and we call out the abhorrent behaviour that is occurring in Gaza.”

Peters condemned the actions of Hamas for the “heinous terrorist attacks” on October 7 and since.

Condemnation of both sides

Reuters has reported about 1,200 Israelis and foreigners were killed in the attack according to Israeli tallies, with more than 240 people taken hostage.

Some have been released in a ceasefire and some have died in captivity.

Mediation attempts to get another ceasefire have failed so far.

“All of us here must demand that Hamas releases all remaining hostages immediately,” Peters said.

“Palestinian civilians must not be made to pay the price of defeating Hamas.”

He also condemned the way Israel had retaliated.

“The facts on the ground in Gaza are absolutely clear. More than 32,000 people have been killed. Millions have been displaced. Warnings ring in our ears that famine in Gaza is imminent.

“Palestinian civilians continue to bear the brunt of Israel’s military actions, humanitarian and medical workers are being killed, and health facilities and vital infrastructure have been destroyed.

“Another generation of young Palestinians – already scarred by violence – is being further traumatised.”

Two-state solution

The foreign minister asked Israel to comply “immediately” with its legal obligations ordered by the International Court of Justice in January this year.

The court ordered Israel to do all it could to prevent death, destruction and any acts of genocide in Gaza.

He told the assembly New Zealand didn’t accept Israel’s way of achieving peace and security and was taking more “territory intended for a future Palestinian state.”

“Israelis and Palestinians deserve to live in peace and security. There is overwhelming support in the international community – including from New Zealand – for a two-state solution.

“Achieving this will require serious negotiations by the parties and must involve a Palestinian state,” said Peters.

A two-state solution is a plan to separate a Palestine state from the state of Israel.

“Building and expanding illegal Israeli settlements in the occupied territories and the forcible displacement of Palestinians from Gaza imperil the two-state solution, which remains the only blueprint for peace that we have.”

Peter shared that Aotearoa welcomed ‘Resolution 2728′, which calls for the immediate release of hostages and for ensuring humanitarian access to Gaza.

“We call on all parties to this conflict to comply with Resolution 2728 without delay.”

“We acknowledge Israel’s belated announcements that it will allow more humanitarian aid into Gaza. Israel must do everything in its power to enable safe, rapid and unimpeded humanitarian access.”

The war has been ongoing for six months as of Sunday.