Chris Hipkins has acknowledged that ‘constitutional purists’ may not necessarily welcome the party’s statement but says ‘they cannot stand by any longer’. National has accused them of playing politics, writes Anna Rawhiti-Connell in this excerpt from The Bulletin, The Spinoff’s morning news round-up. To receive The Bulletin in full each weekday, sign up here.
Chris Hipkins calls for immediate ceasefire
As cities in New Zealand hosted now recurrent protests calling for a ceasefire in Gaza yesterday, Labour leader Chris Hipkins made a statement calling for an immediate ceasefire between Gaza and Israel. “We are urgently calling for a ceasefire. Israel and Hamas need to immediately ensure the conditions for a ceasefire are met and to commit to a lasting peace in the region,” he said. “I, and the Labour Party, cannot stand by any longer in the face of the horrific scenes we are witnessing without calling for a ceasefire,” Hipkins said. Hipkins also called for Hamas to release all hostages immediately. A poll conducted by Talbot Mills released last Friday found 60% of New Zealanders want a full ceasefire.
‘The caretaker government did seek agreement from the National Party… and we did not get that’
Hipkins made it clear he was speaking as Labour leader, not as the caretaker prime minister and acknowledged that his decision to make the call was an unusual one, one that “constitutional purists will also probably not necessarily welcome”. He said National rebuffed his offer to make a bipartisan call for a ceasefire. “The caretaker government did seek agreement from the National party to call for a ceasefire, and we did not get that,” he said. National responded by saying the caretaker government had approached the party on Friday about calling for a ceasefire. National wanted to seek advice from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade and received notice about the call Hipkins was about to make four minutes before Hipkins began speaking yesterday. In a statement, a spokesperson for National said, “It is very disappointing that Chris Hipkins is playing politics with such a serious issue.” The spokesperson added that National supports the goal of a ceasefire, however, the conditions haven’t yet been right for one.
Hipkins puts ceasefire call in context of domestic affairs
Hipkins’ comments on foreign affairs did strike something of a domestic tone. Hipkins said that as there was “no end in sight” to negotiations to form a government, he needed to make a statement as Labour leader. As talks continued over the weekend in Auckland, National leader Christopher Luxon said yesterday there are “three or less issues” that require sorting out. Opinion is diverging about whether the talks are taking too long. Writing on his Substack, Philip Crumb, editor of Newstalk ZB Plus, argues the proof of the pudding is in eating. “Time spent now agreeing a fulsome coalition agreement will undoubtedly be time well spent.” Vernon Small says Luxon “looked like a political innocent being played by NZ First leader Winston Peters and has been upstaged with the media by Act leader David Seymour.” The University of Otago’s Michael Swanson points out the time being taken pales in comparison to government negotiation processes around the world.
Negotiations continue on deal to pause conflict and hostage release
Around the same time as Hipkins’ statement, The Washington Post reported that Israel and Hamas had reached a “tentative U.S.-brokered deal” that would pause the conflict in Gaza and allow some women and child hostages to be free. The Post had to walk that back after US National Security Council spokesperson Adrienne Watson clarified that a deal had not been reached but “we continue to work hard to get to a deal.” Reuters, Al Jazeera and the BBC all have reports this morning of a deal “being close”. As Israel continues to make its case for its operation at the al-Shifa hospital in Gaza, alleging that Hamas has a command and control centre underneath the hospital, an evacuation has been underway to rescue premature babies from the hospital. Hospital staff have strenuously denied Israel’s claims about the hospital. As Al Jazeera reports, a poll from November 14 has Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s popularity among Israeli Jews at about 4% and both his opponents and traditional allies are calling for him to resign once the current war ends.