'Business as usual,' Israeli embassy says after Security Council vote

Israel's administration doesn't have any more sanctions planned for New Zealand after recalling its ambassador Itzhak Gerberg and blocking New Zealand's ambassador from travelling there.

Diplomatic relations soured afterr the pre-Christmas UN Security Council resolution that criticised Israeli settlements as violating international law and undermining a two-state solution with Palestine.

New Zealand co-sponsored the resolution with Senegal, Venezuela and Malaysia after the original sponsor, Egypt, pulled out under pressure from Israel and US President-elect Donald Trump.

But the Obama adminstration reversed long-standing US policy to veto resolutions on Israel in the Security Council and abstained in the vote, allowing the resolution to pass with the support of all other members: the UK, France, Russia, China, Japan, Ukraine, Egypt, Angola, Uruguay and Spain.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu ordered his foreign ministry to temporarily limit ties with countries that sponsored the resolution, namely Senegal and New Zealand, as Israel doesn't have diplomatic ties with Venezuela or Malaysia.

'Business as usual'
"Other than the fact that the ambassador has been recalled and the fact that the New Zealand ambassador to Israel, Jonathan Curr, is not allowed for the moment to visit Israel, there are no further sanctions," Israel embassy spokeswoman Patricia Deen says.

"We're just continuing with what we were doing, business as usual, and that's really it at this moment."

New Zealand Foreign Minister Murray McCully met with Mr Netanyahu last month during a trip to the Middle East, where the Israeli PM stressed the need for direct negotiations with Palestinians to find a two-state solution.

Mr Netanyahu says Israel won't obey the resolution or change its settlements policy.

"Israel is a country with national pride and we do not turn the other cheek," he says.

"This is a responsible, measured and vigorous response, the natural response of a healthy people that is making it clear to the nations of the world that what was done at the UN is unacceptable to us."

Film, innovation agreements
The two nations signed a film co-production agreement this year and are also on the verge of signing an innovation agreement leading to joint research and development, which was pushed for by New Zealand's chief scientist Peter Gluckman.

He was part of a New Zealand Innovation mission to Israel in June led by Spark chief executive Simon Moutter.

Ms Deen says current initiatives are still going ahead, "particularly in regard to the business innovation agreement, so that's all go."

New Zealand exported $26.2 million of goods to Israel in the year ended June 30 and imported $115.5 million of goods. Investment flows were much smaller, with just $1 million of New Zealand investment into Israel in the March year and $20 million of Israeli investment in New Zealand.

(BusinessDesk)

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