I wonder just how well thought out UN Security Council Resolution 2334 (UNSC2334) was.
Its implications are far reaching. The immediate coverage and comment by Murray McCully and US Secretary of State John Kerry was all about settlements, but that's not the most important part of the resolution.
New Zealand policy since 1947 has been based on that year's UN General Assembly Partition Resolution 181, which allowed for the establishment of a Jewish State and an Arab State (those actual names). The Jews declared the State of Israel; the Arabs spurned the opportunity for their state and invaded Israel.
UNGA181 said Jerusalem and environs, including Bethlehem, should be an international city. Reality was different, with the city divided by war after the Arab invasion in 1948. The ceasefire agreement with Jordan allowed for Jewish access to their Holy sites in the Old City. Not once did Jordan honour the agreement to allow Jews to visit the Temple Mount and Western Wall in the 19 years of its control from 1948 to 1967.
This failure to honour the agreement by Jordan has been part of the reason New Zealand has always supported the internationalisation of Jerusalem, but even this is not achieved with UNSC2334 - half of it is handed to the Palestinians and Jerusalem once more becomes a divided city.
Unesco actions in denying historical fact over Jerusalem just adds to the problem. The October 2016 Unesco Executive Board resolution defines Jerusalem as exclusively Muslim. This applies to all parts of the city including Christian sites and churches, not just the Temple Mount and the Old City.
The New Zealand Government has not condemned Unesco for its denial of historical fact. This along with its vote for UNSC2334, which denies Jewish residential status in the city Jews have been associated with for 3000 years, has turned NZ's long standing policy on its ear.
With this policy change in mind it is worth looking at the situation that existed before Christmas Eve 2016. The focal point for peace efforts was (and many say should still be) UNSC Resolution 242 of November 1967 - the way the UN dealt with the outcome of the 1967 Six Day War. This requires an understanding of its wording. It calls for:
Clause 1 (I) Withdrawal of Israel armed forces from territories occupied in the recent conflict;
It is very precise wording. The words "all" or "all the" are not used. The UK's UN Ambassador Lord Caradon who helped write 242 said in 1978: "We didn't say there should be a withdrawal to the 67 line, we did not put the 'THE' in, we did not say 'all the' territories deliberately... we all knew - that the boundaries of 67 were not drawn as permanent frontiers, they were a ceasefire line of a couple of decades earlier.... We did not say that the 67 boundaries must be forever."
President Johnson said in 1968 relating to UNSC242 that "We are not the ones to say where other nations should draw lines between them that will assure each the greatest security. It is clear however that a return to the situation of June 4 1967 will not bring peace."
Sir Don McKinnon, Jim Bolger's Foreign Minister, said it was not up to us to tell them what the peace deal should be but ours to support the Treaty. We do this in the Sinai as founding members of "The Multinational Force and Observers: Sinai Peninsula".
In 2005 Israel withdrew completely from the Gaza Strip without any kind of peace agreement. At the same time they also withdrew from the West bank city of Jenin and four nearby settlements, again without any agreement. The Palestinian response was indiscriminate firing of rockets from Gaza into Israel.
With UNSC2334 the UN Security Council tries to force Israel to accept a resolution it can never accept: a return to the indefensible June 1967 ceasefire lines and no right of access to Jerusalem's religious sites. Resolution 2334 and the French peace conference of January 15 2017 to which Israel and the Palestinians are not invited will both fail.
Commentators have called UNSC2334 many things. Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop said Australia does not support one-sided anti-Israel resolutions, implying New Zealand does. She is correct, we do.
Other commentators say UNSC2334 is illegal and violates the UN Charter. It overturns UNSC242 and the Partition vote UNGA181. From there you go to Article 80 of the UN Charter, which preserves the Mandate rights granted by the League of Nations. The outcome of this is that the League mandate document dated July 24 1922 becomes the relevant legal document.
The British were granted the mandate for Palestine at the San Remo Conference in 1920.
In 1921 Britain separated what we now know as Jordan from the rest of the mandate, making Transjordan the Arab Palestinian State on 78 per cent of the mandate area, and banned Jewish settlement east of the River Jordan. In 1923 Britain ceded the Golan Heights to the French mandate of Syria. The remaining mandate area, 22 per cent of the original total, was to be the Jewish homeland. Read it for yourself! Do the UN and the Arabs want to go there?
So where to now? On January 3 on Palestinian TV Palestine Liberation Organisation executive committee member Hanan Ashrawi, said: "We have refused and still refuse to say that Israel is a Jewish state." The PLO was formed in 1964 when there was no Israeli occupied territory.
So until there is a Palestinian leadership that accepts Israel as the Jewish State nothing much will happen.
Murray McCully and Prime Minister Bill English need to justify their new policy:
1. Towards the Temple Mount and Holy sites;
2. To Jerusalem city and its status;
3. Future final borders in any peace deal.
Direct negotiation, not resolutions by the UN or Paris conference, is the best way forward.
- John B McCormick is chairman of Hawke's Bay Friends of Israel Association and a member of Hawke's Bay Branch of NZ Institute of International Affairs.