Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met Sunday evening (Jan. 27) at his office in Jerusalem with New Zealand Defense Minister Ron Mark.
“We have very friendly relations with New Zealand,” Netanyahu said. “We’d like to make them even friendlier on all matters – economy, security and diplomacy.”
It’s not the first visit for New Zealand’s defense minister, who was in Israel in 1982, and who says this trip is a “good return.
“I understand the degree of pessimism and skepticism that are, were, present at that time when Menachem Begin and Jimmy Carter and Anwar Sadat,” Mark said, “and look where we are 37 years on.”
Netanyahu referenced Egypt’s leader in his reply, saying, “President el-Sisi just said that the relations between Israel and Egypt have never been as strong as they are now. My son has been visiting New Zealand. I talked to him last night. He says it’s a beautiful country. My wife was there with him and when she came back she said it’s just gloriously beautiful.
“I’m sure you know, this is International Holocaust Remembrance Day, and I think it’s important to appreciate the position of the Jewish people. At the time of the Holocaust, we were absolutely defenseless, unable to protect ourselves, and obviously we have now an advanced, powerful country that builds our future, but also defends our security.
“The main attack against the Jewish people today is the attacks against the Jewish State and the attempt to delegitimize the very right of the Jewish people for a state of their own. This is called anti-Zionism. So the new form of anti-Semitism is anti-Zionism, and we ask not only all our friends, but all decent countries everywhere to include in anti-Semitism, the definition of anti-Semitism, anti-Zionism as well. And so I’ve just made that request from you as well.”
New Zealand’s defense minister replied promptly but appeared to duck the question: “I think you know from our commitment going back as far as 1954, New Zealand has been here, playing a role, helping to contribute to peace and stability and that’s through the United Nations, and then again in 1982 with the MFO, and we’re still here so long as you want.”