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New Zealand Withholds Israel Envoy

Israeli officials had no comment Wednesday on reports that New Zealand has delayed sending an ambassador to Israel because it disapproves of Israel’s behavior toward the Palestinians in the administered territories.

The Foreign Ministry said it had received no formal notification from Wellington.

But New Zealand’s foreign minister, Russell Marshall, stated flatly on radio this week that he decided to delay the diplomatic formalities of accreditation, because of what he called “Israel’s heavy-handed approach to Palestinian Arab protesters.”

It is the sharpest diplomatic rebuff Israel has yet received in connection with the 6-month-old Palestinian uprising in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

New Zealand has no resident ambassador in Israel. Its envoy to the Netherlands is accredited here and was scheduled to come to Jerusalem in April to present his credentials to President Chaim Herzog.

His arrival was put off and no new date has been set.

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