Sunday, June 26, 2005

Israel 'apologizes' over passport row.

Israel has finally apologized over the passport row (which I've blogged about here, here and here). The thing that struck me as curious was that Helen was holding a press conference about the affair yet we never saw any comment from any Israeli official. With my suspicions aroused, I went hunting for the Israeli letter of apology which can be found here (but you'll have to scroll down an unnecessary letter from Phil Goff included, I suppose, to show that he who obtained the apology to be given and not Helen's).

Looking at it, you can see the Israelis haven't really apologized for much:
[...] [W]e wish to express our regret for the activities which resulted in the arrest and conviction of two Israeli citizens in New Zealand on criminal charges and apologize for the involvement of Israeli citizens in such activities
In other words, they haven't apologized for the attempt to procure NZ passports but merely regretted the incident and apologized for the fact that Israeli citizens were involved. Presumably if the Israelis had hired non-citizens (like say Lebanese) for the operation, they wouldn't have anything to apologize for.

In light of the weak nature of the apology, I'm left wondering why it has supposedly taken the Israelis so long to apologize. The government could have obtained this semi-apology well over six months ago when Uri and Eli were released and deported. My guess is that our government was holding out for a much stronger apology (like apologizing for the actual activity rather than merely regretting it or admitting that the operation was on the behalf of the Israeli security services) and caved in when it was under pressure to obtain some good news. If only we could see the letter that the Israeli Foreign Minister was responding to...