Incoming National MP Greg Fleming says he is urging Govt to call for 'immediate ceasefire' in Gaza

National has made it clear he isn't the party's foreign affairs spokesperson.
National has made it clear he isn't the party's foreign affairs spokesperson. Photo credit: Greg Fleming / Getty Images.

An incoming National MP has privately said he is urging the Government to "call for an immediate ceasefire" in Gaza.  

National's Greg Fleming, who was elected to be Maungakiekie's MP at the October election, responded to an email from a constituent about the situation in Gaza by saying he shared their "horror and grief".  

"While it is an absolute privilege to serve the community of Maungakiekie one of the many things I'm fast learning is the limits of my authority due to being part of a big machine," he wrote in an email shared on Twitter and verified as genuine by Newshub.  

"I can do a lot in my electorate, but very little on the bigger stages – particularly when I'm part of government. However whilst I can't speak publicly on matters of foreign policy I can certainly advocate internally for causes.   

"Hence you can be sure that I'm urging those who speak for our government to call for an immediate ceasefire."  

Asked about the email and what National's stance was on a ceasefire, a National Party spokesperson said: "Greg Fleming is not National's spokesperson on foreign affairs".   

"National supports calls for next steps towards a ceasefire and regrets that the conditions do not presently exist for this."  

National is currently negotiating with ACT and New Zealand First to form a new Government. It has been consulting with the outgoing Labour Government on any decisions and statements related to the situation in Israel and Gaza.

Calls for a ceasefire in the region, which is currently under intense bombardment by Israel in response to the deadly attacks by Hamas on October 7, have become politically divisive internationally – as well as here in New Zealand.   

Israel is opposed to a ceasefire while Hamas holds hostages and argue it would allow Hamas to regroup. But proponents of a ceasefire point to the growing Palestinian civilian death toll – which includes children - due to Israel's strikes on infrastructure in Gaza, which Israel says are intended to decimate Hamas. Supporters of a ceasefire say it would allow the flow of vital humanitarian aid into Gaza.  

Israel last week agreed to four-hour daily humanitarian pauses to allow civilians to leave zones of fighting.  

While some world leaders have called for a ceasefire – including the UN Secretary-General and French President – others, like the US President, have resisted. Earlier on Thursday, a handful of frontbench Labour MPs in the United Kingdom resigned their shadow cabinet posts over not being authorised to vote in Parliament in support of a ceasefire.  

In New Zealand, outgoing Prime Minister Chris Hipkins has previously said a ceasefire isn't realistic, but has supported humanitarian pauses and an end to hostilities.    

National leader Christopher Luxon said earlier this month there are challenges with a ceasefire, saying that neither side of the conflict is asking for one.  

"A ceasefire is really across a whole geography and literally ceases fire across the whole of the conflict and is often a precursor to enabling a political resolution," he told RNZ.   

"That is the way the Middle East peace process needs to get started up again because military action isn't going to deliver peace in the region.  

"But here is the real reality of it, neither side actually wants a ceasefire. What we are doing is calling for a humanitarian truce, that is a really good first and immediate step because it is time-bounded, it's practical, I think it's highly possible we could get it done and it gets immediate relief to civilians."   

Te Pāti Māori has said leaders who refuse to call for a ceasefire have "blood on their hands", while the Greens have also called for a ceasefire.   

Luxon this month said he had "spoken to" National MP Chris Bishop after an email he sent about the conflict was posted online.   

"I note you don't mention the horrific barbarism by Hamas, whose charter calls for the destruction of Israel. Hamas terrorists butchered women and children in a rampage of violence and hate," Bishop said. 

Luxon said he told Bishop to be "more careful about that language."   

Since the October 7 Hamas incursion, which led to the deaths of about 1400 civilians in Israel and the abduction of hundreds more, Israel has launched constant attacks against Gaza, including on its biggest hospital which it claims sits above a Hamas command centre – something Hamas denies.  

Reuters reports that medical officials in Gaza say more than 11,000 people have died from Israeli air strikes, with nearly half being children.  

Since Israel's response began, there have been concerns it may breach international law. UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres has previously said the Hamas attacks "cannot justify the collective punishment of the Palestinian people".