New Zealand has broken ranks with Australia, Britain and the United States by recognising a state of Palestine.
Foreign Minister Murray McCully announced the decision just four hours before the historic vote at the United Nations General Assembly in New York.
Up until yesterday afternoon, New Zealand had still not made up its mind whether to vote in favour of the resolution or abstain.
America and Israel strongly opposed the resolution while Australia and Britain abstained.
The resolution, granting Palestine "non-member state" United Nations observer status was overwhelmingly passed by 138 votes to 9, with 41 abstentions.
Mr McCully said that the United Nations resolution was "a poor substitute for direct negotiations between the two parties".
New Zealand was a long-standing supporter of the two-state solution for Israel and Palestine.
"We believe that Israel and a Palestinian state should exist side by side, each respecting the other's right to peace.
"And we believe that they should arrive at that conclusion through direct talks.
"We remain frustrated that two leaders who live half an hour up the road from each other cannot meet to resolve these matters directly."
But after discussions with Palestinian representatives, the New Zealand Government was satisfied that they had delivered a resolution that was moderate, constructive and reflected this country's position.
Israel's ambassador to New Zealand, Shemi Tzur, said that he regretted the Government's decision to vote for the resolution, given his understanding of New Zealand's long-standing commitment to direct negotiation as the only way to achieve durable peace.
Israel was prepared to live in peace with a Palestinian state, "but for peace to endure, Israel's security must be protected".
- © Fairfax NZ News
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