Tweet considered anti-Israel cited as reason for not supporting Greens' push to grant Palestine statehood

A Green MP's tweet considered anti-Israel has been cited as ACT's reason for not supporting the Green Party's push for Parliament to declare Palestine a state. 

The Greens have tabled a motion in Parliament, a proposition brought before the House for its consideration, calling on MPs to officially recognise and support the Palestinian people's right to self-determination and statehood. 

The motion states: "That this House recognise and support the right of Palestine to self-determination and statehood; and recognise the state of Palestine among our community of nations."

It comes as fighting continues between Israel and Hamas, the group that governs the Gaza Strip, a territory considered to be occupied by Israel, however the extent of self-rule has led some to describe it as a de facto independent state. 

New Zealand does not officially recognise Palestine as a state and has Hamas listed as a terrorist group. However, New Zealand does believe in the 'two-state solution', which envisions an independent State of Palestine alongside the State of Israel. 

Green Party foreign affairs spokesperson Golriz Ghahraman said granting statehood is "part of a two-state solution" that would "uphold and celebrate the inherent rights and dignity" of Palestinians.

"This is about acknowledging the humanity and dignity of Palestinians at a time when they are facing extreme violence and degradation, once again, at the hands of Israeli occupying forces," Ghahraman said. 

"It would allow that strong and resilient community to move forward to a future where Palestinian children can look forward to building their lives free from violence, with hopes and dreams that they so richly deserve."

The office of House Leader Chris Hipkins told Newshub the motion is "under consideration". 

Foreign Affairs Minister Nanaia Mahuta said the Government was "open to supporting a motion that recognised and supported the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination and statehood". 

She added: "We understand the Greens were looking to create some wording that could be agreed by everyone."

While New Zealand does not recognise the State of Palestine, it accepts the Palestinian Authority, led by Mahmoud Abbas, as representing the people.

"We have a warm relationship with the Palestinian Authority, but as in line with the criteria of statehood under international law - we have not recognised Palestine as a State," Mahuta said.

The Greens have the support of the Māori Party, but both National and ACT will not support the motion, and for ACT is has to do with a controversial tweet. 

ACT's foreign affairs spokesperson Brooke van Velden wrote to Ghahraman saying the "primary reason" for not supporting the motion was a tweet by Green MP Ricardo Menéndez March. 

"From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free!" Menéndez March captioned images of him alongside Ghahraman and Green MP Chlöe Swarbrick, marching in Auckland in support of Palestinians. 

"The phrase is used by Hamas, a terrorist organisation that calls for the elimination of Israel," van Valden wrote, adding that it was re-tweeted by other Green MPs. 

"There are two possible explanations. The first is that the phrase was used in ignorance by Green Party MPs who were genuinely unaware of the meaning of the phrase, which would be a cause for concern itself.

"The second possible explanation is that your colleagues were indeed aware of the meaning behind the phrase and chose to use it anyway. This would be deeply concerning and not the sort of behaviour that New Zealanders expect from members of Parliament.

"Therefore, while ACT will continue to support a two-state solution, we don't believe supporting the motion proposed by the Green Party is a helpful contribution to this discourse given the recent actions of Green MPs."

Palestinian advocates have argued the phrase is anti-Zionist, the nationalist movement among Jewish people, rather than anti-Israel or anti-Semitic. It has been chanted at rallies across the globe in support of Palestinians

National is also opposing the motion. 

"National's position has consistently been in favour of the two-state system," foreign affairs spokesperson Gerry Brownlee said. 

"Despite the failure of talks over many years to achieve this, we are firmly of the view that it is the best solution to the extraordinary violence that has for a long time and currently is afflicting both Israelis and Arabs on the two sides of the argument.

"It is our position that the two sides need to desist from the current violent engagement and get back to the table on talks that could lead to this two state solution that with commitment from both could bring peace to both states."