New Zealand vandals target sponsor of UN resolution
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New Zealand vandals target sponsor of UN resolution

Auckland’s Foreign Minister Murray McCully’s office hit with graffiti in apparent reaction to anti-settlement measure

New Zealand Foreign Minister Murray McCully addresses the Security Council meeting on the situation in the Middle East on December 16, 2016. (UN/Manuel Elias)
New Zealand Foreign Minister Murray McCully addresses the Security Council meeting on the situation in the Middle East on December 16, 2016. (UN/Manuel Elias)

The office of New Zealand’s foreign minister was vandalized in an apparent retaliation for the country’s sponsorship of a United Nations resolution criticizing Israeli settlements.

Murray McCully’s constituency office in Auckland was spray painted on Wednesday with the words “traitor Jew hater McCully.”

McCully represented New Zealand at the UN when the country sponsored the UN Security Council Resolution 2334 against Israeli settlements along with Malaysia, Venezuela and Senegal.

The resolution says that the settlement enterprise “has no legal validity and constitutes a flagrant violation under international law” and calls for a complete end to all construction in areas Israel captured after the 1967 Six Day War.

It also calls on all states “to distinguish, in their relevant dealings, between the territory of the State of Israel and the territories occupied since 1967” — language that Israel fears will lead to a surge in boycott and sanctions efforts, and that an Israeli official warned would provide “a tailwind for terror.”

New Zealand society has been deeply divided over the resolution, with letters to the editor in national and local papers praising and decrying New Zealand’s sponsorship in almost equal measure.

Last week dozens of Christian supporters of Israel along with members of the country’s tiny Jewish community protested outside the New Zealand parliament against the resolution.

A protest outside the New Zealand parliament in Auckland, New Zealand, on December 30, 2016. (Ernie Rosenthal)
A protest outside the New Zealand parliament in Auckland, New Zealand, on December 30, 2016. (Ernie Rosenthal)

In response to the resolution Israel recalled its ambassador to New Zealand. According to Haaretz, in the hours before the resolution went forward, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu phoned McCully and warned him that going ahead with the resolution “will be a declaration of war.”

In a country which relies heavily on business deals with Gulf states, some letter writers implied that New Zealand’s sponsorship of the UNSC resolution was to further the country’s interests with Saudi Arabia.

McCully himself was cleared of corruption in a recent government inquiry into allegations that he paid millions of dollars of government money to a Saudi prince, Hamood Al-Khalaf, to avoid legal action in a failed sheep export deal. However the Auditor General found that he had not been transparent in presenting the deal to the cabinet.

McCully said he will not stand in the next elections, scheduled for later this year. As part of the cabinet reshuffle following Bill English taking over as prime minister from John Key who recently resigned, McCully will step down as foreign minister in May.

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