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Israel reopens embassy in New Zealand

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SYDNEY, Australia (JTA) – An Israeli embassy was back in New Zealand for the first time since 2002.

Monday’s opening in the central business district of Wellington signaled a new era in Kiwi-Israeli relations following a diplomatic meltdown in 2004, when two alleged Mossad agents were jailed for illegally obtaining a New Zealand passport. Wellington suspended high-level diplomatic relations for one year before Israel formally apologized.

Ambassador-designate Shemi Tzur, 64, who has served in Finland, Cyprus and Estonia, will present his credentials in an official ceremony, including a traditional Maori ritual, on May 7.

Pro-Palestinian protesters belonging to the organization No Israeli Embassy in Wellington said they would continue their plan to disrupt embassy operations.

The Israeli Embassy in Canberra, Australia, has overseen diplomatic affairs in New Zealand since Ruth Kahanov departed her post in 2002 following budget cuts.

New Zealand Prime Minister John Key, the son of a Jewish refugee from Austria, has family living in Israel.
 

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