Daily Israel Report

Israel´s New Zealand Problem

A New Zealand court has sentenced two Israelis found guilty of trying to fraudulently obtain passports - and New Zealand's Prime Minister has declared sanctions on Israel.
First Publish: 7/15/2004, 3:04 PM / Last Update: 7/15/2004, 3:48 PM

A New Zealand court has sentenced two Israelis found guilty of trying to fraudulently obtain passports. The New Zealand media has long reported that the two are agents of Israel's Mossad intelligence agency, though Israel has not confirmed this. They were each sentenced to six months in jail and ordered to pay the equivalent of $32,500 to charity.

Prime Minister Helen Clark also announced diplomatic sanctions against Israel, stating that though relations have long been fine, Israel has not apologized for this latest incident. She canceled a planned visit to New Zealand in August by President Moshe Katzav.

Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom expressed sorrow over Clark's decision, and said that Israel would take steps towards restoring the traditionally positive relations with New Zealand. Dr. Alon Liel, former Director-General of the Foreign Ministry, said that Israel must protest over the diplomatic sanctions, "for if not, it's a silent admission that the two men worked for the Mossad."