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Posted Tuesday, September 21, 2004

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Auckland, New Zealand, Tuesday, September 21, 2004


Goff likely to face Israel at UN debate

Phil Goff, NZ Foreign Minister

By Fran O'Sullivan

FOREIGN Affairs Minister Phil Goff and his Israeli counterpart, Silvan Shalom, may cross paths at the United Nations this week for the first time since Mossad- linked agents tried to steal false New Zealand passports.

The two will be in New York for a meeting of the UN's General Assembly, which is expected to hold a major debate on anti-Semitism. The Government has sought an apology from Israel over the passports incident but nothing has been forthcoming.

Mr Goff said nothing was planned. "If I meet up with the Israeli Foreign Minister in passing, or whatever, I will be making the same points that have been made previously. "The onus is on them at this point to come clean with us and give whatever assurance they are capable of that they don't intend to exploit our citizens and undermine the integrity of our passports."

agentsHe said Israeli agents Eli Cara and Uriel Kelman (right) would be deported at their own expense immediately they were released from prison in Auckland. "These guys are going to be in a real rush to get out of here. They will be out of here as quickly as they can and on a plane back to Israel." Mr Goff has not sought any direct communication with Israel.

But Israel's Ministry of Foreign Affairs says once the pair have gone, diplomatic efforts to repair the rift will be swift. "We plan to answer all the New Zealand Government's questions," said Israeli official Michael Ronen. Mr Goff said the ball was in Israel's court once the agents were released "to say this is what we did, we're sorry we did it and we won't do it again".

The Foreign Affairs Minister will also discuss the passports affair with his Canadian counterpart, Pierre Pettigrew. Israel was caught using Canadian passports as part of a botched attempt to assassinate a Jordanian leader in 1997. Herald inquiries established that Kelman used his Canadian passport on an earlier trip to New Zealand.

Zev BarkanThere are unconfirmed reports that [Israeli assassin] Zev Barkan, left, the alleged mastermind of the attempted passports fraud, has since used the identity of a Canadian citizen, Kevin William Hunter, in Asia. "The Canadians feel very sensitive about this," said Mr Goff, "and there is further evidence that, contrary to assurances given to them, their passports continue to be misused by Mossad agents. "I would expect that if they confirm that, they will get very angry about it." New Zealand police would likely seek extradition orders against Barkan if he was found.

And Mr Goff said missing Aucklander Tony Resnick, suspected by police as the fourth man in the affair, would be questioned if he returned. The minister condemned the tactics by the Israeli pair's lawyers to seek an appeal against the convictions as an obvious attempt to "stop open discussion" of the affair. agents"They can't claim their conviction was wrong - they pleaded guilty. They can scarcely claim that the sentence was extraordinarily harsh. If anything, I think they got off lightly."

A Herald inquiry has found:

A high-profile Israeli MP believes the state of Israel "wants to do killings" but should penetrate hostile countries using identities gained with the help of friendly intelligence agencies.

Charges of anti-Jewish sentiment against the [Helen] Clark Government within New Zealand and Israel could just as easily be laid against most European nations, judging by their UN voting records.

Some New Zealanders living in Israel are prepared to "lend" their New Zealand passports to Mossad to help fight terrorists.

Israeli security analysts believe Mossad was operating a "passport factory" here and in Israel, using disabled people's identities.

Tony Resnick is well-known to Israel's New Zealand community, but they are not disclosing his whereabouts.

The strategy Finance Minister Benjamin "Bibi" Netanyahu is using to turn Israel around is "pure Rogernomics".


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