McCully treading carefully in push to get agreement from both sides

Foreign Minister Murray McCully says consultations over the wording of New Zealand's draft Security Council resolution on the Middle East will take at least another week and could change to accommodate objections.

"The whole point of bringing something forward is to try and get agreement from both sides of this discussion," he told the Herald.

"New Zealand's character of having a reputation for even-handedness and fair-mindedness means that is what countries would expect of us."

He said he was looking to support action that would stop the "downwards spiral in recent months" - conflict mainly around sacred sites in East Jerusalem.


"We are not going to achieve that objective if we push the timetable too hard," the minister said.

The draft resolution has not been published - which is not unusual - but it calls on Israel to stop building any more settlements in Palestinian occupied territories and calls on the Palestinians not to refer Israel to the International Criminal Court in The Hague.

It also asks both sides not to question the integrity of the other side or its leaders, in a bid to build trust and get the parties back to the negotiating table after talks brokered by the US collapsed last year.

Importantly, the US has offered no view on the resolution, despite traditionally backing the Israeli view that the council does not have a role in brokering a resolution.

"We've had some discussions with the Government of Israel," Mr McCully said. "I'm not going to go into those, other than to say, as with other informal discussions, they've been very constructive."

He said other events would bear on the subject, notably the visit by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to Washington, an imminent meeting of Arab League foreign ministers and a meeting of the Quartet (the United Nations, US, European Union and Russia).

Peace talks to secure an independent Palestinian state in East Jerusalem, the West Bank and Gaza have been unsuccessful, as have been attempts to stop Israel building new settlements in occupied territory.