Israel and New Zealand are in the middle of a diplomatic row after the South Pacific country accused Israel of rejecting its ambassador to the region because he would also represent the country in the Palestinian territories. The move follows the recent escalation of violence between Israel and Hamas over the Gaza strip.
New Zealand had appointed Jonathan Curr to Turkey as its ambassador in the region and Curr was scheduled to travel to Jerusalem and present his papers there. However, the country has said Israel refused to accept Curr's posting because he would also deal with the Palestinian Authority, or PA, according to Associated Press, or AP. Since 2008, New Zealand’s envoys to Turkey have reportedly represented the former in the region. Curr is expected to represent New Zealand in Jordan, Georgia and Azerbaijan, along with Israel, PA and Turkey.
“A few days ago, Israel advised New Zealand that it would not accept as ambassador a person who was also a representative to the Palestinian Authority," New Zealand’s Foreign Minister Murray McCully said in a statement, AP reported.
However, the Israeli embassy in Wellington denied the claim stating that the matter is a “protocol principle,” according to AP, adding: "The issue in question is totally unconnected to the good relations between the two countries."
An Israeli rule forbids diplomats representing their country to the Palestinian Authority from acting as an ambassador in Jerusalem, according to the Haaretz.
Curr had reportedly told Israeli foreign ministry personnel that he would also meet Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas for an official ceremony during his visit to Israel next week.
New Zealand’s Prime Minister John Key said, according to AP, that his country might be viewed abroad as having turned neutral about Israel after 2012 when it voted to support PA getting a non-member status at the United Nations. Key is now expected to get involved in the matter, AP reported.
“Israel has scored a marvelous own goal,” a diplomat from New Zealand said, according to Haaretz.