Thumbs-up from Netanyahu on NZ-Israel ties

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu isn't saying whether he stands by his comments about New Zealand declaring war on Israel.

That was under New Zealand's previous Government - and now with Winston Peters as Foreign Minister Israel is expecting the relationship to get much cosier.

Israel is a country rich with culture, history, religion but also conflict - and militarily, it's a powerhouse. Earlier this year Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu effectively said it was at war with New Zealand.

"If you continue to promote this resolution from our point of view it will be a declaration of war. It will rupture the relations and there will be consequences," Mr Netanyahu said late last year after New Zealand co-sponsored a resolution in the UN Security Council criticising Israeli settlements as violating international law.

Asked this week if the ties had been remedied, Mr Netanyahu gave a thumbs-up.

"I was really proud of New Zealand when they co-sponsored that and really disappointed when they backed down," says Israeli-Kiwi Tal Rogoff of Combatants for Peace, a group of Israelis and Palestinians who once fought against one another but now work together.

"I felt that this was time to show a bit of kahunas and fair bit of mana as well, and the opportunity wasn't taken - they were allowed to be bullied by the Israeli government."

It was the worst the relationship had been since 2004 when Israeli Mossad spies tried to fraudulently get a New Zealand passport. Things eventually got back to usual, until the UN vote.

Our new Foreign Minister rubbished it at the time. Israel's now anticipating a new friendlier era under Winston Peters.

"We're looking forward to even strengthening our relationship in the future," said Israeli diplomat Michal Maayan.

The new Foreign Minister failed to get back to Newshub with his expectations for the Israeli-NZ relationship  because it was too difficult to reply with the change of Government underway.

But under Mr Peters it's unlikely there will be any more declarations of war with Israel.

Meanwhile, the conflict between Israel and Palestine shows no signs of resolution.