Israel’s ambassador to New Zealand Itzhak Gerberg will meet with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Thursday to discuss whether further sanctions against NZ are appropriate.
The Israeli government has already withdrawn its ambassador and barred New Zealand’s ambassador from Israel.
Israel’s embassy said “until further notice” no more sanctions would be imposed against New Zealand.
This news came after reports of a bitter phone call between the Israeli leader and New Zealand Foreign Minister Murray McCully where Netanyahu said NZ’s actions amounted to a “declaration of war”.
“My ambassador has just arrived in Israel today. He will have a meeting with the Prime Minister tomorrow, so until further notice there are no further sanctions,” said Patricia Deen, spokeswoman for the Israeli embassy in Wellington.
Israel withdrew its ambassador from New Zealand and barred our ambassador from their country after New Zealand co-sponsored a UN Security Council resolution condemning Israel on Christmas Eve.
The UN Security Council resolution called for Israel to stop building settlements on occupied Palestinian land. It was picked up and sponsored by New Zealand and three other countries after US President-Elect Donald Trump reportedly pressured Egypt into dropping it.
The resolution was passed on Saturday after the US abstained instead of vetoing, as they historically have done on votes concerning Israel.
Netanyahu personally phoned Minister of Foreign Affairs Murray McCully before the vote, his office has confirmed.
Israeli publication Haaretz, citing unnamed western diplomats, described a “harsh” phone call between the pair.
“This is a scandalous decision. I’m asking that you not support it and not promote it,” Netanyahu reportedly told McCully.
“If you continue to promote this resolution from our point of view it will be a declaration of war. It will rupture the relations and there will be consequences.”
McCully reportedly refused to back down, according to Haaretz, telling Netanyahu the resolution was consistent with New Zealand policy on the dispute.
McCully’s office refused to publicly comment on the content of the conversation.
Deen said the phone call had been “blown out of proportion” but didn’t want to comment on it in detail.
Earlier this week, McCully publicly said that Israel shouldn’t be surprised by New Zealand’s position.
“We have been very open about our view that the [security council] should be doing more to support the Middle East peace process and the position we adopted today is totally in line with our long established policy on the Palestinian question,” he said in a statement.
New Zealand has used its time on the Security Council to consistently call for a halt to settlements.
Its two-year term as a non-permanent member ends this month.
New Zealand was the only western nation to co-sponsor the resolution, joining Malaysia, Senegal, and Venezuela.
The Security Council passed the resolution 14-0, with the United States abstaining.
Netanyahu is furious with the decision. He has halted aid to Senegal and said “friends don’t take friends to the Security Council”.
In 2014, Israel was New Zealand’s 55th largest two-way trading partner