Bill English
Bill English Reuters

New Zealand’s prime minister denied on Wednesday that he apologized for supporting a United Nations Security Council resolution condemning Israeli over “settlement construction”, saying his government still supports the resolution.

Prime Minister Bill English’s comments, which were made to the New Zealand Herald and quoted by JTA, came one day after Israel and New Zealand restored diplomatic ties and Israel agreed to order its ambassador to New Zealand to return to his post in Wellington.

New Zealand was one of the four co-sponsors of UN Resolution 2334, which was adopted in December by the UN Security Council. The resolution passed with a majority of 14-0, with the United States abstaining and thus allowing it to be adopted.

Reports following the vote suggested that New Zealand promoted the resolution and voted in favor of it due to pressure from the British government.

In February, Israel permanently downgraded its diplomatic ties with New Zealand and Senegal, two of the co-sponsors of the resolution. Relations with Senegal were renewed last week.

Following monthlong discussions with New Zealand, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu spoke by phone with English several days ago, according to a statement by the Israeli government released Tuesday.

The statement claimed that English told Netanyahu that “I regret the damage done to relations between New Zealand and Israel as a result of New Zealand’s co-sponsorship of UNSC resolution 2334.”

English, however, told reporters in New Zealand that he did not apologize for the resolution or the country’s sponsorship of it.

“The resolution expressed longstanding and international policy and we stand by those positions. What we do express regret about was the fact that it disrupted our relationship with Israel,” he said, according to the Herald.

“Whether we agree with a country or don’t disagree with them, we certainly prefer to have diplomatic connection and it’s good that Israel has seen fit to restore their post in New Zealand,” added English.

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