Australian prime minister blasts UN resolution on Israeli settlements
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Australian prime minister blasts UN resolution on Israeli settlements

(JTA) — Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull condemned last week’s United Nations Security Council Resolution criticizing Israeli settlements, calling it “one-sided” and “deeply unsettling” for his country’s Jewish community.

Turnbull made the remarks during a speech Friday at Central Synagogue in Sydney where he attended a Hanukkah candle-lighting event, the Australian Jewish News reported. He referenced Security Council resolution 2334, which called Israeli settlements in the West Bank and eastern Jerusalem a “flagrant violation of international law” that undermines attempts to reach peace.

But such efforts are “not assisted by one-sided resolutions made at the councils of the United Nations or anywhere else, and that is why Australia has not, and does not, support one-sided resolutions,” Turnbull said. “Australia stands with Israel. We support Israel, the only democracy in the Middle East. Above all, we stand shoulder to shoulder with Israel in the fight against terrorists.”

Britain, which unlike Australia is a member of the Security Council, supported the resolution. But a government spokesman criticized elements of a speech given this week by Secretary of State John Kerry in which he defended the U.S. decision to abstain from the vote and not to veto the resolution. The spokesman said it was inappropriate for Kerry in the address to characterize the Israeli government as the most right wing in Israel’s history.

Separately, dozens of Christian supporters of Israel protested outside New Zealand’s parliament their country’s sponsorship of the UN resolution. The 71 protesters traveled 13 hours to the capital of Wellington from the city of Hastings.

Prior to the demonstration, the Flaxmere Christian Fellowship Church in Hastings and 11,685 supporters had signed a petition to parliament titled “For the Protection of Zion.” The petition called on the New Zealand government to cease pressuring Israel to give up its “rightful and God-given land and to recognize Israel’s right to sovereignty over the entire Land of Israel.”

The Jewish state “should pay no attention to this anti-Semitic, anti-Israel, unjust and evil resolution,” Pastor Nigel Woodley said. Neither New Zealand nor the international community, he added, has the right “to impose on Israel restrictions as to where they can and cannot live within their historical homeland.”

Woodley went on to allege that the New Zealand government “has bloodied its hands in regarding this Judas operation” and “shamefully betrayed a traditional ally and friend for the spotlight on the world stage.”

Some 240 local people from the Wellington Jewish Community and other friends of Israel groups and individuals joined the rally, which took place during the southern country’s summer holidays, when parliament is  not in session.

New Zealand Foreign Minister Murray McCully last week defended the resolution, which Israel condemned and prompted the Jewish state to recall its ambassadors from New Zealand and from Dakar, Senegal, one of three countries that cosponsored the resolution with New Zealand.

“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,” McCully said in a statement on Dec. 23.

“The vote today should not come as a surprise to anyone, and we look forward to continuing to engage constructively with all parties on this issue.”