Israel and New Zealand

First of all, kia ora, this is my first post here (apart from the guest posting the other day).

Israel and New Zealand are currently in a diplomatic standoff.

To begin the story: In 2002 New Zealand Foreign Affairs Minister Phil Goff visits Palestine and Israel. Goff meets with Arafat, thus Sharon refuses to meet with Goff. This follows on from New Zealand's constant voting against Israel in the UN General Assembly.

Then last year two Israeli Mossad agents were caught trying to obtain a New Zealand Passport in the name of a crippled Aucklander (a third fled the country). New Zealand Passports are valued as New Zealand is an unthreatening Pacific Island country (with no combat air force) and has a record of supporting small countries against big ones.

Mossad agents have previously been caught travelling on Canadian passports and having assassinated people while travelling with those passports.

The New Zealand Police charged the agents with passport fraud. They were not charged with espionage, this is most likely because the intelligence came from overseas sources that could not be exposed (the NZ security services are a joke).

The pair, Eli Cara and Uriel Kelman, were sentenced to six months imprisonment.
Immediately after the sentencing Prime Minister Helen Clark announced that she was suspending all high level diplomatic relationships with Israel until an apology was forthcoming.

The pair were released from prison in September after serving half of their sentencing. This is when the apology was expected to come, none arrived.
The Israeli President is visiting Australia soon, it was expected that he would then continue on to New Zealand, but the New Zealand government has not extended an invitation to Israel.

Neither country is going to go out of their way to satisfy the other. They are not allies, they do not trade with each other, they are not neighbours and they have little in common interest. This diplomatic standstill may continue for quite a long time.


Woo! Go Greg! 

Posted by Pete W
2/08/2005 10:18:00 pm  
Welcome Greg. Nice post, I'll have to read up on this one... never heard about it at all. 

Posted by surrogate
2/08/2005 10:35:00 pm  
Yay we need a Pacific perspective 

Posted by Sarah
2/08/2005 10:37:00 pm  
Dare I say that Mr. Sharon and Mr. Bush are cut from the same clothe? They seem to think they need no one and apologies of any sort are out of the question.

I'm happy you have joined us Greg. I look at and read your site most everyday. I don't get involved because I tend to run into too much hassle that I just don't have time for. But, I will try to put my two cents worth in now and again as I do believe we need to support each other.

I will be interested in hearing more about what is happening in New Zealand.

Kia kaha - I think ?? 

Posted by Dianne
2/08/2005 10:49:00 pm  
Kia ora, Greg,

I'm not so sure your secret services are THAT incompetent...

Didn't they also catch the French secret services agents trying to blow the Green Peace ship anchored off the Murora Atoll some 15 years ago in a show of "will you dare blow your next nuclear test while we are here only a couple of kilometers of the coast"?

LOL, I'm still laughing about it to this day: the Fr secret services agents looked like such idiots, just like those Israeli ones. Only I wish I had more factual information to share (no doubt it would make Brogonzo's day). But perhaps you do? 

Posted by WhyNot
2/08/2005 11:01:00 pm  
Ahh, the Greenpiece ship was sunk in Auckland harbour while tied up to a wharf, not at Mururoa. And there is more to that than meets the eye.

Greg, got proof that the men were Mossad agents ? Sounds possible, and Israel is unlikely to admit it, but certain ? Weren't some people from another country recently caught forging NZ passports, and NZ hasn't implemented diplomatic sanctions against that country, nor asked for an apology. Sure those guys weren't acting on thei government's behalf ? 

Posted by Ed Snack
2/08/2005 11:18:00 pm  
“Ahh, the Greenpiece ship was sunk in Auckland harbour while tied up to a wharf, not at Mururoa.”.

Glad you know the facts, Ed, it's such a long time ago fuzzy memory to me. I didn't even remember they actually manage to sink the ship, only that they tried to, LOL.

“ And there is more to that than meets the eye”.

What more? I'm all ears when it comes to juicy fuck-ups whether they originate from France, Israel or the US.

“Sure those guys weren't acting on thei government's behalf ?”.

Click here for the full answer to your questions, as hot-linked by Greg on his own blog. In the meatime, for those too lazy to explore links, here is a copy/paste job of the article:

New Zealand Prime Minister Helen Clark has suspended all high-level contacts with Israel after two Israelis suspected of being spies for the Mossad were jailed for trying to obtain a passport illegally.

The government said on Thursday that there were "very strong reasons" to suspect the two men were acting on behalf of Israel's intelligence services and froze all high-level official contact with Israel.

Clark said she would stop a planned visit by Israeli President Moshe Katsav in August. She also said Israeli officials would need visas to enter New Zealand and foreign ministry contacts would be suspended.

In an angry statement issued after an Auckland High Court on Thursday jailed the two men, Clark said that their actions had amounted to a breach of New Zealand's sovereignty.

"The New Zealand government views the act carried out by the Israeli intelligence agents as not only utterly unacceptable but also a breach of New Zealand sovereignty and international law," she said.

No word.

"The Israeli government was asked for an explanation and an apology three months ago. Neither has been received," she added in the statement.

Clark pointed out that it was not the first time Israel had sought fraudulently to obtain passports from another country.

"Israeli agents caught in an unsuccessful assassination attempt in Jordan in 1997 were found to be carrying fraudulent Canadian passports," she said.


A New Zealand court sentenced Uriel Zoshe Kelman and Eli Cara to six months in prison after they pleaded guilty to trying to obtain fraudulently a New Zealand passport by assuming the identity of a wheelchair-bound cerebral palsy victim.

They were let off from serving a further three months after offering to donate NZ$50,000 ($32,700) each to a local charity. The pair had faced a maximum penalty of five years in jail.

Kelman shielded his face with a hand to avoid being filmed throughout the two-and-a-half hour sentencing.

Clark said New Zealand would not accept any attempt by the Israeli government to intervene on behalf of the men and that Cara and Kelman would serve their sentences in full and then be deported.

Israel's acting ambassador in Australia, Orma Sagiv, said she hoped Israel's strong relationship with New Zealand would not see long-term damage from the incident.

Sagiv declined to comment on whether the men were intelligence agents or on the diplomatic sanctions. Israel has no direct diplomatic representation in New Zealand.

The two men were arrested in March after police secretly followed them as they were arranging to pick up the passport.

A third man, identified as Zev William Barkan, was said by the defence to have masterminded the operation, but he left New Zealand before he could be arrested.

Posted by WhyNot
2/08/2005 11:41:00 pm  
Nice seeing you here, Greg.

With respect to your post...It is a very interesting situation, that otherwise I would not have noticed. 

Posted by Dr. Marco
2/09/2005 12:50:00 am  
I agree Marco. I'm looking forward to hearing more from Greg and you when your patients aren't needing you. :)  

Posted by Dianne
2/09/2005 12:58:00 am  
I am planning on posting on the nuclear-free NZ/Rainbow Warrior affair in the weekend (I have an exam tommorrow and on friday, this is procrastantion -actually that's how I started blogging in the first place), so you can all wait for the answers to that until then.

The NZ intellingence agencies have only ever had that one victory as far as we (the public) know. They tend to be taken as a joke here given there reliance on foreign intelligence (although we still avoided going into Iraq)

The other people caught were doing it for profit, and have been imprisoned and will be deported upon release. There is nothing to suggest that they were agents. I would suspect that the government had strong evidence for them being Mossad agents, although there would probably be a higher burden of proof if it were not Israel (given that NZ tends to vote aqainst Israel at the UN) 

Posted by Greg Stephens
2/09/2005 01:13:00 am  
“I am planning on posting on the nuclear-free NZ/Rainbow Warrior affair in the weekend ”.

I look forward to it, Greg. I think France's policies to blow atomic bombs in the Pacific was a disgrace. Thank goodness they've stopped now - apparently, computer simulations are now sophisticated enough to do the job.

On the other hand, I'm very much in favor of nuclear energy, and in particular very eager for the huge international ITER project to get going. This should all make for interesting debates :-) 

Posted by WhyNot
2/09/2005 07:22:00 am  



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