Comments by new Foreign Minister Gerry Brownlee on New Zealand co-sponsoring a UN motion condemning Israel's settlements in Palestinian territory are at odds with comments by Prime Minister Bill English.
Brownlee said on Wednesday the Security Council resolution passed last December had been "premature" and implied it should not have passed without Israel's support.
He said on Radio New Zealand that the value of Security Council resolutions was in the "willingness of the parties who are having the resolution imposed upon them to accept what's in it."
But English, on the same day, said the resolution had been in line with New Zealand policy and that he did not regret New Zealand's co-sponsorship.
Labour foreign affairs spokesman David Parker said Brownlee's comments were "ill-considered."
"That is not a good start for the Minister of Foreign Affairs to effectively resile from one of the most important steps New Zealand took after many years of efforts to get on the Security Council."
Within hours of receiving his ministerial warrant on Tuesday, Brownlee wrote to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to express the hope that the diplomatic rift could be repaired.
After the vote last December, Netanyahu recalled the Israeli ambassador and blocked travel rights for New Zealand's Turkey-based ambassador to visit Israel.
In an angry phone call with former Foreign Minister Murray McCully before the vote, Netanyahu reportedly said New Zealand's co-sponsorship would be a "declaration of war."
New Zealand had been one of five Security Council members to support the resolution in Egypt's name. But Egypt withdrew its sponsorship after pressure from then US president-elect Donald Trump.
The United States, which has long protected Israel from such resolutions through exercising a veto, abstained, allowing the resolution to pass with no dissension.
Brownlee is in Australia and Deputy Prime Minister Paula Bennett spoke on his behalf when questioned in Parliament today by the Green Party about his comments.
She said he supported the resolution. She also said Brownlee believed that settlements undermined the two-state solution and she said that when he had used the word "premature" in relation to the resolution, "were more in light that we would have liked to have given Israel notice of the resolution and our part in that, but didn't."
The resolution reaffirmed the UN Security Council (UNSC) position that the continued building of new settlements by Israel in occupied Palestinian territory undermined the two-state solution. Extracts of UNSC 2334 includes statements that the Security Council:
• Reaffirms that the establishment by Israel of settlements in the Palestinian territory occupied since 1967, including East Jerusalem, has no legal validity and constitutes a flagrant violation under international law and a major obstacle to the achievement of the two-State solution and a just, lasting and comprehensive peace.
• Reiterates its demand that Israel immediately and completely cease all settlement activities in the occupied Palestinian territory, including East Jerusalem, and that it fully respect all of its legal obligations in this regard.
• Underlines that it will not recognise any changes to the 4 June 1967 lines, including with regard to Jerusalem, other than those agreed by the parties through negotiations.
•Stresses that the cessation of all Israeli settlement activities is essential for salvaging the two-state solution, and calls for affirmative steps to be taken immediately to reverse the negative trends on the ground that are imperilling the two-state solution.