Politics | Palestine

New Zealand’s involvement in RIMPAC exercise condemned because of Israel’s participation

RIMPAC condemned for involvement of the Israel’s Navy

The participation of the Royal NZ Navy in Rim of the Pacific (Rimpac) military exercises has caused controversy this week from groups urging its withdrawal due to Israel’s participation.

This year’s exercises involving major western nations, will take place in Hawai’i between June 26 and August 2.

The biennial exercises have been protested in the past by groups such as Cancel Rimpac Coalition because of what it argues is the devastating impact on the environment and for disregard of indigenous Kānaka Maoli.

This week New Zealand’s participation alongside Israel has been criticised due to Israel’s actions in Gaza where, as the Israelis search for hostages taken by Hams in last October’s massacre, many Palestinian civilians have been killed.

Defence Minister Judith Collins said involvement in Rimpac was important due to interoperability and New Zealand would benefit from familiarity with how other militaries worked.

Palestine Solidarity Network Aotearoa has argued New Zealand’s participation showed complicity in war crimes and that withdrawing would be a symbol of solidarity and show NZ took the prevention of genocide seriously.

“We are calling on our government to withdraw from the exercise because of Israel’s industrial-scale slaughter of Palestinians in Gaza,” PSNA national chair John Minto said. “Why would we want to join with a lawless, rogue state which has demonstrated the complete suite of war crimes over the past eight months.”

Last night, Te Ao Māori News spoke with Green Party defence spokesperson Teanau Tuiono, who said New Zealand must align with peace and turn its back on Rimpac in consideration for Palestinian people.

Tuiono raised South Africa’s case in the International Court of Justice against Israel over its actions in Gaza and how the UN had added Israel to the list of offender nations against children.

“Ki au nei, me whakaaro nui tātou nei ki a tautoko i a Gaza, kia tautoko i a Palestine, i te mea, he aha te take kei te kuhu mai a Iharaira? Me te whakaaro anō hoki, ko ngā Amerikana, ko rātou anō nga tino kaitautoko o Iharaira.” I believe we must consider supporting Gaza, Palestine, because why is Israel joining? Also, the US is the top supporter of Israel.

Te Ao Māori News asked if it was fair to attend in order to work alongside other countries and gain experience.

Tuiono said: “Ki roto i te horopaki nei, kāre i te tika.”

In this context, it’s not.

Peace Action Wellington’s Valerie Morse said this was not the first time Israel has been a participant in Rimpac, so it would not have been a surprise to the New Zealand government.

“It would have been quite easy to take the decision to stay out of RIMPAC given what is happening in Palestine. That Christopher Luxon and Judith Collins have not done so shows that they lack even a basic moral compass.”