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Monday, September 08, 2014

Israel rejects New Zealand's new ambassador

Israel has rejected the credentials of New Zealand ambassador Jonathan Curr on the grounds that Curr is also slated to be his country's ambassador to the 'Palestinian Authority.'
New Zealand does not maintain an embassy in Israel; its relations with Israel are handled by its embassy in Ankara, which is responsible for several countries in the region. Its ambassador to Turkey serves as nonresident ambassador to Israel and comes to Jerusalem every month or two for meetings.
New Zealand’s new ambassador to Turkey, Jonathan Curr, was meant to come to Israel this week to present his credentials. A packed schedule for his visit was almost set, when last Thursday he told Foreign Ministry personnel that since he is also responsible for New Zealand’s relations with the PA, he also planned to visit Ramallah for an official ceremony with PA president Mahmoud Abbas as well.
This was not to be a full presentation of credentials, since New Zealand does not recognize a state called Palestine. Curr was to present instead a letter of introduction, a document which merely informs Abbas that he is the New Zealand diplomat who handles ties with the PA.
When the Foreign Ministry heard this, officials informed Curr that this violated diplomatic protocol. They noted that since the Oslo Accords, Israel had firm rules that forbade a foreign ambassador to be credentialed to both Israel and the PA, and that unless his “dual credentials” were canceled, he could not serve as ambassador to Israel.
Well, yeah, except that for years, the Leftist-controlled foreign ministry had allowed New Zealand to do exactly what Curr wanted to do....
Curr was shocked, because his two predecessors were credentialed to both Israel and the PA and Jerusalem had never protested. Senior ministry officials explained to Curr that, even if this was the case, his two predecessors had presented credentials to Abbas without informing Israel.
Claims by Foreign Ministry officials that such accreditation had taken place without Israel’s knowledge seem rather strange, since the website of New Zealand’s embassy in Turkey states clearly that its ambassador is also accredited to Israel, the PA and Jordan.
To try to resolve the issue, the Foreign Ministry suggested that a lower-level diplomat from the embassy in Turkey present the letter of introduction and be responsible for ties with the PA. This further insulted Curr, who retorted that Israel was not going to tell his country how to handle its diplomacy.
Haaretz's Barak Ravid goes on to report that the government of New Zealand, which he describes as being  'pro-Israel,' (which they probably are) is furious over the 'snub' to Curr.

The problem here is that Israel should never have accepted a situation where it shares an ambassador to the 'Palestinian Authority' in the first place.

But I'm not sure Ravid is right. Wikipedia maintains a list of New Zealand's ambassadors. There are a lot of instances where New Zealand has ambassadors accredited to multiple countries, but here's what it says about the ambassador to Turkey:
The embassy is located in Ankara, Turkey's capital city. New Zealand has maintained a resident ambassador in Turkey since 1993. The Ambassador to Turkey is concurrently accredited to Israel and Jordan.
But in fact the web page of the New Zealand embassy in Turkey says that the ambassador is accredited to Jordan, Israel, the 'Palestinian Authority,' Georgia and Azerbaijan.  Maybe this really is something new as Israel's foreign ministry claimed?


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