The New Zealand Government and New Zealand Parliament
We call for the New Zealand Government to fulfil its international legal obligations, and to demonstrate moral leadership to the rest of the world by supporting Palestinian human rights and denouncing Israeli war crimes.
In particular, we implore the Government to: • Immediately call for an unconditional and internationally monitored ceasefire;
• Provide urgent humanitarian assistance to the Palestinian people;
• Demand an end to Israel’s illegal occupation and blockade of Palestinian territories;
• Publicly condemn the targeting of civilians and the unfolding genocide of the Palestinian people in Gaza, in accordance with New Zealand’s obligations under international law;
• Invoke the responsibility of Israel under international law for its “wrongful acts” against the Palestinian people; and
• Condemn the unlawful violent extremist settler behaviour in the West Bank and the atrocities presently being committed, as well as the illegality of Israeli settlements in the West Bank. [We are saddened that New Zealand did not join a statement issued by 15 countries (including Australia, Canada, UK, France, Ireland, Norway and Sweden) on December 15 condemning settler actions.]
On behalf of the people of New Zealand, the Government must take these steps to ensure that we are not supporting a genocide, and to help preserve the international rules-based system we are so dependent on.
Why is this important?
Israel’s long running siege of the Palestinian territories and its current destruction of Gaza are illegal under international law. This has been well documented in UN Security Council and General Assembly Resolutions, International Court of Justice and International Criminal Court rulings, and by international legal experts and human rights organisations.
On 12 December 2023, the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) – a federation of 188 human rights organisations from 116 countries – stated that Israel’s actions against the Palestinian people constitute an unfolding genocide and that states and individuals who provide assistance to Israel are rendering themselves complicit. They called on the International Criminal Court to immediately issue arrest warrants for Israeli officials who are responsible for international crimes against Palestinians.
Under international law, all states including New Zealand have the individual obligation to prevent atrocity crimes. Currently, however, the New Zealand Government is ignoring national and international appeals to preserve human life and uphold international law. The Government appears oblivious to the serious humanitarian violations taking place, including the murder of civilians in refugee camps, churches, schools, hospitals and UN facilities. And it has said nothing about Israel bulldozing people as they sleep in their tents, or the collapse of the health system, spread of disease and unfolding famine.
This makes our country complicit in the war crimes of genocide, targeting civilians and civilian infrastructure, and denying the right of a people to self-determination.
New Zealand has traditionally taken a strong moral position on serious injustices around the world, including acting to end apartheid in South Africa and to stop the genocide in Rwanda. New Zealand also recognised universal jurisdiction as a well-established principle of international law in 2018. This provides a legal basis for States to prosecute and punish war crimes and crimes against humanity, regardless of where the conduct occurred and the nationality of the perpetrator.
We must therefore ask our Government to show the moral courage to stand up to these crimes against humanity and take immediate action.