After receiving heavy criticism for their advice to City Councils that flying the Palestinian flag on council buildings during this year’s Nakba Day (15 May) would give offence to the Israeli Embassy, Foreign Affairs have had a change of heart.
Instead of recommending against a council flying the flag they will now simply “provide New Zealand’s International policy settings” to councils.
This is a small but welcome change. Councils will be able to make their own decisions and take into account the sensitivities of Palestinian New Zealanders, not just the risk of giving offence to the embassy of a racist, apartheid regime.
By way of background Palestine Solidarity Network Aotearoa wrote to all councils earlier this year requesting they fly the Palestinian flag. Wellington City Councillor Tamatha Paul organised for the Michael Fowler Centre to be lit up in Palestinian colours (because the council had no flagpole!) but this was abandoned when MFAT advice was received.
Justice for Palestine activists in Wellington then projected the flag onto the side of Te Papa in response to the council decision.
The one council which did fly the Palestinian flag was New Plymouth District Council – and the sky did not fall in (see picture below)