Winston Peters' Israel-Gaza comments welcomed, but analyst says could have gone further on veto

The Foreign Affairs Minister has delivered a forthright address to the United Nations General Assembly - calling the situation in Gaza an "utter catastrophe".  

Winston Peters also took aim at the veto power held by powerful countries at the UN.  

It comes six months on from Hamas' bloody assault and after six months of Israel's brutal retaliation.  

Peters was on the international stage forgoing usually restrained diplomatic language for a blunt assessment.   

"The situation in Gaza is an utter catastrophe," he said.  

He expressed concern with both Hamas and Israel's actions.  

"New Zealand condemns Hamas for its heinous terrorist attack on 7 October," he said.   

"Palestinian civilians continue to bear the brunt of Israel’s military actions.   

"Gaza, which was already facing huge challenges before this conflict, is now a wasteland."  

 Peters also reiterated New Zealand's desire for peace.  

"New Zealand welcomed Resolution 2728, which demanded an immediate ceasefire for the month of Ramadan, leading to a lasting sustainable ceasefire."  

Geopolitical analyst Geoffrey Miller said it was significant, even if New Zealand has made similar soundings before.  

"There is a greater impact by saying these things at the United Nations in New York. It does have a greater impact than if Winston Peters said these things at the New Zealand Parliament."  

 MPs from both Labour and the Greens welcomed the statement.   

"Good to see him make some strong statements. We need to back that up now with some action," said Greens co-leader Marama Davidson.  

"We should have been making the comments earlier, of course we should have, but never too late," said Labour's Damien O'Connor.  

"I was pleased to see his language being tougher," said Labour MP David Parker.   

Even if their leader - who has criticised the Government's response - wasn't fully across it.  

"I haven't had the chance to see the detail of it," Chris Hipkins said on Tuesday morning.   

Peters also voiced opposition to the veto powers held by the five permanent members of the UN Security Council.   

It's a long-standing grievance for New Zealand, raised recently when we chaired the Security Council and as Russia vetoed decisions in the wake of its invasion of Ukraine.  

Peters said: "Since the start of the current crisis in Gaza, the veto has been used five times to prevent the Security Council from acting decisively. This has seen the Council fail in its responsibility to maintain international peace and security."  

But Miller said he could have gone further.   

"He didn't mention the countries that used that veto in relation to Gaza. The United States has used that veto three times."   

Peters left New York hoping to have delivered the message that the current war shouldn't eclipse a vision for peace in the future.