New Zealand warning

It was sobering hearing about the powerful earthquake that struck New Zealand just after midnight on November 14. I have been to Christchurch a few times recently, seen evidence of the 2011 quake and heard from residents about its ongoing traumatising effect. This week’s quake was stronger, but mercifully there were only two fatalities.

You will not be surprised to know how I’m inclined to see what just happened: it could be considered as judgment but – more practicably perhaps – as an alert or warning and a call to intensive prayer.

The earthquake Monday struck just hours after visiting US Secretary of State John Kerry ended a number of closed-door meetings in Wellington with Prime Minister John Key and members of his government.

While Kerry was reportedly in that part of the world on business related to the Obama administration’s ‘climate change’ policy – he flew from Christchurch to Antarctica and back that weekend – this might have been a smokescreen designed to hide his real purpose: an effort to finalise a US-NZ understanding concerning the creation of ‘Palestine’ in the historical land of Israel.

Israel’s leadership and friends of the Jewish state have expressed real concern that a lame duck President Barack Obama might use his remaining time in office to serve the ‘two state solution’ on Israel via the UN Security Council, perhaps by refusing to use the United States’ veto in the event that France or another nation bring a resolution to this effect.

Those fears are running quite high just now, with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu – against whom Obama is known to harbour personal animosity as well as a political grudge – reportedly bracing for a move.

Donald Trump’s victory in the election and his ability once president to negate Obama’s almost entire legacy could spur the latter to attempt this one last global-impacting thing.

Before flying to Antarctica, Kerry expressed gratitude for New Zealand having become “such a key contributor to global peace and security, including through their recent and very productive term on the UN Security Council”.

Sunday, after his discussions with Key, the two men gave a tightly-scripted press conference, permitting only three questions.

Apart from a mutual love fest on the relations between the two countries and, as mentioned, a primary focus on ‘climate change’, the press event gave barely a nod in the direction of the Syrian war and migrant crisis, “and many other international challenges from building schools to vaccinating children to the counterpiracy efforts in the Gulf of Aden”.

Glaringly absent was any reference to the usually omnipresent Israeli-Palestinian Arab conflict.

Why is this notable?

It is notable because when New Zealand was rotated onto the Security Council on January 1, 2015 and Foreign Minister Murray McCully stated that his country’s two year term “will place us at the heart of international decision-making for the next two years,” a major goal of the Key government was to “punch way above our weight,” (of a total population of just five million) “and use the opportunity to push Israel and the Arabs effectively towards the ‘two state solution’”.

One day earlier – on December 31, 2014 – an Australian no-vote on that country’s final day on the Council narrowly thwarted an Arab effort to do what it is believed Obama might be about to try and achieve: the PLO sought to use the UN to garner internationally recognized statehood status via a Jordanian draft resolution that would have fixed a one-year deadline for Israeli-Palestinian negotiations, requiring Israeli withdrawal to pre-1967 lines, and declaring Jerusalem the capital of ‘Palestine’.

Only Australia and the United States voted against that resolution – the Australian vote meaning that the US did not have to use its veto that time. (Obama could not then use his having done Israel this ‘favour’ as leverage when Netanyahu went to Washington to oppose the US-led nuclear agreement with Iran.)

As New Zealand’s entered the Security Council, McCully let it be known that, unlike Australia, his country would have abstained or perhaps even voted in favour of that Jordanian resolution.

In June 2015, as NZ was about to hold its first month-long presidency of the Council, Jerusalem expressed unease that Wellington was strongly considering concrete steps to force a solution upon Israel.

A French initiative in a similar direction appeared to stay the hand of the Key government at that time, but in mid-March this year, an angry McCully urged the UNSC to respond “appropriately” to what was termed an “Israeli land grab” after the Israeli government exercised its fully legal right (under both Israeli and international law) to appropriate non-private (i.e. state controlled) land near the Dead Sea.

McCully insisted (against the UN founding charter which upholds League of Nations-promulgated international law legitimising the close settlement by Jews of the ancestral heartland of the Jewish people) that these “settlements” contravene international law.

“Israel’s settlement activity continues to threaten the viability of a two state solution,” he fumed. “For the Council to do nothing while the scope for a ‘two state solution’ is completely undermined would be a total abrogation of its responsibilities.”

In August, Politik reported on the waning hope of the Key government to be able to realize its “much promoted Middle East showpiece plan” before its UNSC term expired:

“The plan was to have been a centrepiece of New Zealand’s time on the Security Council. [Still] New Zealand diplomats in New York are optimistic [their country] might still in its remaining four months on the Council be able to do something.”

The Times of Israel at the time referred to New Zealand as a “diplomatic bantamweight which, although the Key government had been considered a close friend of Jerusalem, is currently convinced that the peace process needs to be advanced, if necessary by forcing a solution on the parties”.

Key and McCully have just over a month left to Do Something.

And indeed, this past Sunday (November 13) the New Zealand Herald reported that one of the closed-door discussions between Kerry and Key was a potential UNSC resolution on the ‘two state solution’.

McCully had even raised the possibility of the US or New Zealand still sponsoring such a resolution.

“It is a conversation we are engaged in deeply and we’ve spent some time talking to Secretary Kerry about where the US might go on this. It is something that is still in play,” he told reporters (my emphasis).

While Donald Trump’s administration will need to reflect on where it wants to go after January 20, McCully said, “I think there are some very important decisions that the Obama administration is going to have to make in its lame duck period on this issue”.

He called the meeting with Kerry, “a wonderful opportunity to compare notes about how [America and New Zealand] see the few weeks ahead. [It is] a narrow window of opportunity for international diplomacy”.

Added a Foreign Ministry spokesman: “If the US is in the sort of lame duck period now, perhaps [it is] more likely to push something across the line just because there is nothing riding on it for the US, and therefore, be able to get it through the Security Council.”

As I write, McCully is on his way to the Middle East to meet with Jordanian, Israeli and PLO leaders. The topic of these meetings will not be climate control.

How then should we respond?

In 2017, Australia and New Zealand will together celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Battle of Beersheba, where ANZAC soldiers were at the spear point of the British forces that liberated the Holy Land from the Muslim Ottoman Empire.

In the tradition of its century-long strong friendship with the Jewish people and their state, Australia has hitherto mostly withstood those who are trying to impose the creation of ‘Palestine’ on Israel. May God continue to strengthen that nation to do so.

Netanyahu has announced that he will visit Australia early next year; the first sitting Israeli prime minister to do so. Perhaps in recognition of its stand against global anti-Israelism? Christian Zionist Aussies are preparing to welcome him and to strengthen him by their show of support for Israel.

New Zealand has, unfortunately, been leaning in another direction. Whatever the Key government may or may not be planning, however, it has issued a formal invitation to Netanyahu to visit New Zealand too – this is a bright point on New Zealand’s blackened record – and Kiwi Christians have written to the Israeli leader asking him to include their country in his itinerary.

Since announcing his planned diplomatic push Down Under, Netanyahu’s office has gone on to add Fiji to his itinerary, indicating his program is not finalised and that he may still be able to include New Zealand, which so far is not on the list.

May God use this window of opportunity to lead and direct an effective Christian response in that land at this critical time.

Here are the points to understand:

In the next six weeks, the clock will tick towards year’s end and towards the end of Key and McCully’s UNSC dream – very little time to make New Zealand’s two years on the UNSC count for something in their eyes.

At stake is the ANZAC spirit which 100 years ago spurred Aussie and Kiwi Diggers, with daring and courage, to lead the British charge and liberate the Jews’ ancestral land from Ottoman control.

This spirit of ANZAC – used by God and something rightly to be patriotic about – is in the enemy’s direct firing line. He has six weeks to try reverse a 100-year-old victory and see Muslim control returned to the heart of that land.

Going by statements expressed during the election campaign, a Trump administration might indeed effectively continue wielding the US veto and thwart efforts to create ‘Palestine’ at the UN.

If, however, the enemy succeeds in upending the ANZAC spirit through a US- and NZ-driven pro-‘Palestine’ resolution in the Security Council, we Christians need to understand that the God of Israel is the Author and Upholder of Scriptural declarations such as those embodied in Genesis 12:3 and Joel 3:1-2.

His avowed intent to realize these statements is not some vague suggestion about what may happen on a dim and distant horizon. It is His active living Word for right now, and for every single moment until Messiah comes.

This article originally appeared on Jerusalem Watchman, November 16, 2016, and reposted with permission.

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Stan Goodenough
Stan has lived in Israel for half of his life even though he was born to a Gentile couple serving on the mission field in the small kingdom of Swaziland. Following three years volunteering on Israeli collective farms in the 1980s, he worked as a political reporter for the South African newspaper, The Daily Dispatch – where his pen had its training during apartheid’s waning years. He has traveled to various nations, speaking to Christians about developments in Israel. In 2011 he was accredited by the Israel Ministry of Tourism as a tour guide, and takes individuals, small groups, families, busloads and helicopter-loads of Christians around God’s Land.