Jerusalem US embassy a step back: Ardern

“We would condemn the violence that has occurred. I think, it’s plain to see the effects of this decision and the ramifications are wide-reaching.”

While stopping short of directly blaming the US and President Donald Trump for the tension – saying it was hard to judge how much protest had escalated from usual – Ardern reiterated New Zealand’s position that the US decision to recognise the holy city as Israel’s capital last year had made a two-state solution more difficult.

“We said we thought this would lead to a backwards step in that progress towards peace and it has,” she said.

New Zealand was in December one of 128 nations to vote for a UN resolution criticising the recognition of Jerusalem as the capital.

In a statement, a spokeswoman for Israel’s embassy in New Zealand said there was “no valid connection between the opening of the US embassy in Jerusalem and the weeks’ old Hamas-orchestrated violent confrontation campaign”.

US President Donald Trump's daughter Ivanka Trump, attends the opening ceremony of the new American embassy in Jerusalem.

US President Donald Trump’s daughter Ivanka Trump, attends the opening ceremony of the new American embassy in Jerusalem.

Photo: AP

“Israel has the right and the duty to protect its sovereignty, its borders and its citizens,” she said.

“Accordingly, that message of self-defence has been conveyed to the New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade.”

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said Hamas’ conduct was confrontational and seeking to provoke Israeli defence forces.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and Opposition Leader Bill Shorten.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and Opposition Leader Bill Shorten.

Photo: Alex Ellinghausen

“Any loss of life is tragic in these circumstances,” Turnbull told 3AW radio on Tuesday.

Foreign Minister Julie Bishop expressed sadness over the deaths and injuries.

“We recognise that Israel has legitimate security concerns and needs to protect its population, and we call on Israel to be proportionate in its response and refrain from excessive use of force,” she said in a statement.

“Australia urges Palestinian protesters to refrain from violence and attempting to enter into Israeli territory during the March of Return.”

Bishop said the violence underlines the importance of a return to negotiations toward a two-state solution and peace.

Opposition Leader Bill Shorten called on both sides to de-escalate the situation.

“When you see the death of children, no good comes of that.That’s a disaster,” he told reporters in Brisbane.

Meanwhile, former prime minister Tony Abbott repeated comments he made last year that Australia should follow the US lead and shift its embassy to Jerusalem.

“Australia should consider following Trump’s move,” Abbott tweeted.

Turnbull confirmed there were no plans to move Australia’s embassy from Tel Aviv.

Labor’s foreign affairs spokeswoman Penny Wong agreed it was sensible not to shift Australia’s post.

“Jerusalem is contested territory,” she told Sky News.


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