Brownlee visits Israel…and the Golan Heights

May 4, 2016 by J-Wire Staff
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New Zealand’s Defence Minister Gerry Brownlee has made his first visit to NZ Defence Force (NZDF) troops at South Camp in Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula, Israel, and the Golan Heights.

Gerry Brownlee

Gerry Brownlee

The media statement released on his New Zealand Government site has initially portrayed the Golan Heights as stand alone  but later states that he met with a New Zealand officer “while in Israel  in the Golan Heights.

A spokesperson for the minister told J-Wire: “There was an error in the press release, as you point out, which has since been amended.”

The media release states: “Visiting the Sinai provided a great opportunity to talk with Multinational Force and Observers (MFO) leadership and our 27 strong Kiwi contingent who form part of the deployment that for the past 34 years has maintained peace between Israel and Egypt on the Sinai Peninsula,” Mr Brownlee says.

“The deployment to the MFO is one of New Zealand’s longest running peacekeeping deployments, with a continuous NZDF presence since the mission began in 1982.

“As in other deployments, NZDF personnel are doing an excellent job, in this case as drivers, trainers and key operational planning personnel contributing a huge amount to the MFO.

“The deployment is also highly appreciated by the Egyptian and Israeli governments, a point reinforced by Egyptian Defence Minister Sedki Sobhi, when I met with him on Friday, and Israeli Defence Minister Moshe Ya’alon, who I met in Tel Aviv on Sunday.”

While in Israel Mr Brownlee also met with Major General David Gawn, Head of Mission and Chief of Staff to the United Nations Truce Supervision Organisation (UNTSO), in the Golan Heights.

“As a former New Zealand Chief of Army, Major General Gawn is extremely experienced and the visit was a timely opportunity for full briefings on the security situation in the region,” Mr Brownlee says.

UNTSO was the first peacekeeping operation established by the United Nations, with the first military observers arriving in the Middle East in June 1948.  UNTSO’s activities are spread over five host countries – Egypt, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, and Syrian Arab Republic.

“There are currently eight NZDF personnel serving as part of the UNTSO based in Israel, Jerusalem and Southern Lebanon,” Mr Brownlee says.

“New Zealand is committed to international peacekeeping and peace monitoring efforts, and Kiwis can be very proud of the work NZDF troops are undertaking to promote peace and stability in the Middle East.”

Mr Brownlee is in Stuttgart to participate in a Counter-ISIL Defence Ministers’ meeting prior to returning home.


One Response to “Brownlee visits Israel…and the Golan Heights”
  1. Kasriel Oliver says:

    Your heading should bear the words “Israel including the Golan Heights” rather than “Israel and the Golan Heights” . The latter would seem to imply that Golan Heights is not part of Israel. In the Torah, Moshe Rabbeinu (Moses) designated one of the Jewish Cities of Refuge to be in the Golan. Also in Biblical times, Jewish people lived there. It is part of the original Eretz Yisrael. Netanyahu has pointed out that there are archeological artefacts there, which are evidence of Jewish life in the Golan.

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