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Trump trashes chance of Middle East peace for giggles and a diversion

Written By: - Date published: 6:54 am, December 7th, 2017 - 50 comments
Categories: Abuse of power, Donald Trump, International, Politics, us politics - Tags: ,

Donald Trump is expected to announce today that the US embassy will be moved at some stage from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem and that the US of A recognises Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

From the New York Times:

President Trump plans to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and move the American Embassy there, upending nearly seven decades of American foreign policy and potentially destroying his efforts to broker peace between Israel and the Palestinians.

Mr. Trump’s decision, a high-risk foray into the thicket of the Middle East, was driven not by diplomatic calculations but by a campaign promise. He appealed to evangelicals and ardently pro-Israel American Jews in 2016 by vowing to move the embassy, and advisers said on Tuesday he was determined to make good on his word.

But the president, faced with a deadline of this past Monday to make that decision, still plans to sign a national security waiver to keep the embassy in Tel Aviv for an additional six months, even as he set in motion a plan to move it to Jerusalem. Officials said the process would take several years.

More significantly, Mr. Trump is to announce his formal recognition of Jerusalem as the Israeli capital in a formal speech at the White House on Wednesday, when he will become the first American president to take that step since the founding of Israel in 1948.

Mr. Trump spent Tuesday morning explaining the policy change in telephone calls with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel; Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian Authority president; and to Arab leaders who warned him that it would disrupt the peace process, perhaps fatally, and could unleash a new wave of violence across the region.

The move is entirely symbolic. As far as I understand it there is no problem with the existing embassy. At a diplomatic level the decision is bonkers. Jerusalem is considered by both Jews and Arabs to be hugely important to their cultures and their religions.

To understand the intensity of the feelings surrounding the city Jonathan Freedland in the Guardian provides this description of the proposal:

Not content with taking the US to the brink of nuclear conflict with North Korea, Donald Trump is now set to apply his strategy of international vandalism to perhaps the most sensitive geopolitical hotspot in the world. With a speech scheduled for later today that’s expected to recognise Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and reaffirm a pledge to move the US embassy to the city, he is walking into a bone-dry forest with a naked flame.

For the status of Jerusalem is the most intractable issue in what is often described as the world’s most intractable conflict. It is the issue that has foiled multiple efforts at peacemaking over several decades. Both Israelis and Palestinians insist that Jerusalem must be the capital of their states, present and future, and that that status is non-negotiable.

But it’s not just important to them. The Old City of Jerusalem contains the holiest site in Judaism and the third holiest mosque in Islam, to say nothing of its enormous significance to Christians, meaning that even the slightest move there is felt by billions. It is a place where diplomats have learned to tread with extreme care. There is a reason why no US administration, no matter how pro-Israel, has changed its policy toward the city in the nearly 70 years since Israel’s founding.

But here comes Trump, oblivious to precedent and indeed history – even in a place where history is a matter of life and death – stomping through this delicate thicket, trampling over every sensitivity. The risk is obvious, with every Arab government – including those loyal to Washington – now issuing sharp warnings on the perils of this move, almost all of them using the same word: “dangerous”.

Let us be clear. Most advocates of an eventual two-state solution believe the only way to resolve the Jerusalem issue is for it to serve as the capital of both states: East Jerusalem as the capital of Palestine, West Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. Then, and only then, would be the right moment to start moving embassies and issuing statements of recognition. Until that day, any act that pre-empts an agreement between the two parties on the city’s future is reckless and needlessly incendiary.

And to give some historical context, East Jerusalem was annexed by Israel during the 1967 war.  Palestine has always refused to accept the validity of the annexation.  There is a deep sensitivity that only the most insensitive and stupid would breach.

And of course there are other problems.  The forcible settlement of over 500,000 Israelis in Palestinian land is not something that can be resolved easily.  And it appears that Israel takes the chance to attack Palestinian society every chance it gets.  Even EU sponsored Palestinian schools are not exempt.  From CNN in August this year:

According to the [Norwegian Refugee Council], three educational facilities for Palestinian children in the West Bank have been demolished or damaged by Israeli authorities in the past two weeks.

A kindergarten for the Bedouin community of Jabal Al Baba was torn down, and a primary school in Abu Nuwar had its solar panels — the only source of power at the school — dismantled and taken away, the NRC says.

The body that looks after civil administration in those parts of the West Bank still totally controlled by Israel — designated as Area C — is known here by its acronym, COGAT; it stands for Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories.

COGAT says all the demolished structures were illegal and that the demolitions were carried out lawfully.

In a statement to CNN, COGAT said: “The building in Jub El-Thib was built illegally last weekend, a blatant violation of ‘stop work’ orders, and without receiving the required permits. Therefore, the confiscation was carried out in accordance with the Civil Administration authorities.”

The European Union says about 100 structures — homes, shelters, water networks, as well as schools — in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, for which the EU or EU member states have provided funding, have been demolished or seized over the past year.

New building projects in the West Bank’s Area C require a permit from Israeli authorities.

But the NRC says the majority of planning requests are denied; the NRC says that leaves international donors and Palestinians alike with no choice but to build anyway.

So what does Trump do?  Completely disregards Palestinian views and ambitions and instead side with Israel.  With this approach there will never be peace, just a winner state and a loser state.  And resentment amongst all of the Arab world not to mention amongst local Palestinians. The phrase “Bull in a China shop” has never appeared to be more appropriate.

Not that there was much chance of peace breaking out.  But once the US Embassy is established in Jerusalem there will be one other problem standing in the way of an increasingly difficult path to peace.

And why now?  Maybe news that special prosecutor Robert Mueller has requested data from Deutsche Bank relating to Trump’s banking records is the motivator.  Deutsche Bank was penalised earlier this year for laundering Russian money.

 

50 comments on “Trump trashes chance of Middle East peace for giggles and a diversion”

  1. Cinny 1

    This news has disturbed me greatly, the tangerine toddler stirring the pot of conflict. It’s all over AJ, so many leaders are coming out condeming it, good on them for doing so.

    Palestinians call days of rage over US Jerusalem plan
    http://www.aljazeera.com/news/2017/12/palestinian-days-rage-trump-jerusalem-plan-171206103433314.html

    trump just gave his speech announcing it, and finished off saying ‘god bless Israel, god bless the Palenstinians and godbless ‘murica’ … what a cliche war monger he is. Does he really believe his decision will bring peace? The stupid it really hurts sometimes

  2. Johan 2

    Trump is anti-gov’t and pro-corporate, a real circus as he plays one side off against the other. Less gov’t is turning the US very much closer towards a nazi state. Those who have learned nothing from history are bound to repeat horrendous mistakes.

    • SpaceMonkey 2.1

      Or perhaps they HAVE learned from history and kind of liked what they saw… chilling if so!

  3. Ad 3

    To get an idea of how this structure near Jerusalem is going to impact on the area, check out the U.S. embassy in Baghdad:

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Embassy_of_the_United_States,_Baghdad

    It is 42 hectares, nearly the size of Vatican City State.
    The buildings include:

    – Six apartment buildings for employees
    – Water and waste treatment facilities
    – A power station
    – Two “major diplomatic office buildings”
    – Recreation, including a gym, cinema, several tennis courts and an Olympic-size swimming pool

    The complex is heavily fortified, even by the standards of the Green Zone. The details are largely secret, but it is likely to include a significant US Marine Security Guard detachment. Fortifications include deep security perimeters, buildings reinforced beyond the usual standard, and five highly guarded entrances.

    Took a couple of billion to build, and who knows what the operating expenditure is per year.

    Guaranteed the Jerusalem version will have all kinds of defence systems.

    Let’s not forget that this is in an area where every quarter acre is fought over, fenced, and scrutinised by all sides, and where the Israeli government has only this year expanded the city limits to take in more West Bank land for Israeli settlements.

    What a needless flamewar moron this President Trump is turning out to be.

    The Guardian calls it an act of diplomatic arson, which is about right.

    • tracey 3.1

      Wow@ the size. And given the hostility you would expect nothing less in Jerusalem.

      It will be very heaviliy fortified so is this a back door way of gifting Israel a big fat US military base to keep the Palestinians in check??

      • Ad 3.1.1

        Slightly more subtle.

        It’s militarised real estate colonialism.
        The Palestinian s in the West Bank know it well.

        • tracey 3.1.1.1

          Psychologically it will be seen as a pseudo military base?

          US Diplomats in the Middle East will be filling out transfer forms as we type?

    • Matthew Whitehead 3.2

      To be fair, while a US embassy in Israel is a terrible idea, the size of the one in Baghdad is likely because of the fact that they don’t feel safe having non-combat personnel leaving the grounds on routine business, and any embassy in Israel would likely be smaller.

    • RJL 3.3

      While a US embassy in Jerusalem would undoubtedly be fortified I doubt it would be quite the extent of the Baghdad one. The circumstances are quite different.

      Also, as the US does have an embassy in Israel I doubt anyone will be in any great hurry to actually implement Trump’s “decision” in concrete.

      The symbolism of notionally moving the embassy to Jerusalem matters, and will in itself be a major source of conflict and aggravation. But the adults in the US administration will surely try their best to mitigate by not being too speedy about actually doing it.

      I think it would also make quite a difference whether the site for the embassy was in east or west Jerusalem.

      • Ad 3.3.1

        My bet is that it will be a substantial and custom-built structure, far larger than the Tel Aviv complex – though of course smaller than Baghdad’s.

        Some are suggesting smaller sites next tot he existing Jerusalem consulate.

        But the bigger site being touted is the 7.7acre Alleby Barracks site.

        We’ll just have to wait and see.

        I don’t think Senate Appropriations committee is going to be a problem rolling out a couple of billion for this one.

        It’s a large and juicy haunch of red meat thrown to his evangelical base, and they will want to see a signal military+church architecture built there.

  4. One Two 4

    Who For

    Why Now

    Silence of certain groups could be telling

    Trump would not have made the decision unilaterally

  5. esoteric pineapples 5

    Trump may be mad but he is the President of the United States and as such must be seen as representing US policy, especially as there is no clear move to get rid of him by the United States establishment. So, in a sense, Trump has inadvertently ripped away all pretense.

    • Siobhan 5.1

      Hilary advocated for this in a letter to the president of Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America, so..there you go…

      CNN reported in July 1999:

      First lady Hillary Rodham Clinton says she considers Jerusalem to be the “eternal and indivisible capital of Israel” and will be an active advocate — if elected to New York’s Senate seat — to move the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem.

      In a letter that became public Thursday, Mrs. Clinton wrote: “If I am chosen by New Yorkers to be their senator, or in whatever position I find myself in the years to come, you can be sure that I will be an active, committed advocate for a strong and secure Israel, able to live in peace with its neighbors, with the United States Embassy located in its capital, Jerusalem.”

      https://ntknetwork.com/hillary-clinton-in-1999-jerusalem-is-eternal-and-indivisible-capital-of-israel/

      Maybe Trump isn’t the only nutter to be in the House..

  6. Stunned Mullet 6

    As this is Trump one should expect the worst..however, as devils advocate I would encourage people to read the speech but imaging that it’s being delivered by Obama (or another president you had some respect for) does that moderate your view of the speech itself ?

    https://www.nytimes.com/2017/12/06/world/middleeast/trump-israel-speech-transcript.html?hp&action=click&pgtype=Homepage&clickSource=story-heading&module=a-lede-package-region&region=top-news&WT.nav=top-news

  7. mac1 7

    I’ll read the speech on your recommendation, Stunned Mullet, but on the radio it was all ‘other presidents didn’t but I am delivering”……….

    I was taken by Trump’s vocal delivery. Listen to the pacing, and the tune, the way he pitches his voice. Is he taunting? It’s also like a parent explaining to an apprehensive child when he actually announced the move.

    • Stunned Mullet 7.1

      I have reflex action to disagree with anything I hear coming out of his mouth so I tend to look at the speeches written for him and read them with another presidents voice to see if I can get any better view of what’s being said.

      • Tracey 7.1.1

        It is a good practice SM. We could all do well to run that lens over all political utterings

  8. Bill 8

    And it’s a done deal.

    So I’m thinking it’s deliberate provocation that possibly seeks reaction that will then “green light” Israel bombing the hell out of Syria. Why? Because Israel wants Iran ‘out of the picture’ and Syria’s an important part of the picture in the middle east.

    • francesca 8.1

      But when even the Saudis are against it, and they’ve been de facto allies of Israel when it comes to Syria, I’m just boggled
      And Erdogan’s Turkey, who have the biggest NATO army outside the US has registered its disapproval
      The strength of the US dollar is pretty dependent on the Sauds initially and then OPEC in general selling oil in US dollars(after they went off the gold standard)
      How can Trump risk pissing off the oil producing muslim nations
      I think Israel sees Hezbollah as a target and they have no qualms about bombing Syria when the fight moves too close to the illegally occupied Golan Heights, but could they really contemplate an all out assault on Syria?
      Jeez, what a world

      • Tracey 8.1.1

        Usually my cynical side says follow the money but the money is everywhere in this one… except in Palestine.

    • spikeyboy 8.2

      I think more likely Lebanon is the target here. There has already been an attempt to split the current unity with the abduction of the Lebanon’s Prime Minister, Saad Hariri by Saudi Arabia but Lebanon stayed calm and united. That calm is very likely to shatter with this announcement and the hope of Israel and the USA may be that some stray missiles originating in Lebanon will come the way of Israel to give them a gift wrapped reason to retaliate. If the Saudis have not already pledged their continued support then Netanyahu must have a guarantee of being backed to the hilt by Trump since he would know that he would fail on his own.

  9. Macro 9

    Could we have expected anything else?
    Remember Krushner and Netanyahu are close – Netanyahu visited his home when Krushner was a child. Trump is there simply to favour himself and his friends – no one else matters. For example his great big Xmas present is to himself, and his friends, and this is just another favour for a family friend. That it gives pleasure to his support base – the mindless, idiotic, religious right (whom I read the other day) know less about religion than atheists, is also good as far as The Chump is concerned, as they are the ones who are unwavering in their support, and will get a buzz out of this in the so-called “season of peace”.

  10. mauī 10

    He hasn’t invaded a middle eastern country yet so he’s one up on his predecessors there.

  11. SPC 11

    In 1995 the US Congress passed a bill, the Jerusalem Embassy Act, recognising Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and calling for the US embassy to relocate there. The move was supported by both Bill Clinton and George W Bush when they came into office, but both presidents ended up signing waivers postponing the implementation of the legislation over concerns about national security.” BBC.

    Obama much the same, and now Trump has acted. Why? Because it seems right to do so 100 years since Jerusalem was taken from the Ottoman Turks in 1917. And why delay the moving of the embassy there 3 years – because he would have to be re-elected for it to happen. This is all domestic USA politics.

    The wider question in diplomacy is how he USA justifies recognising Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, while withholding recognition of Israel’s claim of annexation of East Jerusalem. This dilemma has arisen out of the now official fantasy that Jerusalem can be the undivided capital of two states. Thus be the capital of Israel alone first without prejudicing it also being later the capital of Palestine.

    In granting Israel its wish that an undivided Jerusalem be recognised as Israel’s capital (when it could have recognised West Jerusalem alone), the USA (not Trump alone), has given its first sanction to formalising the status quo (facts on the ground). Thus provided a veneer of credibility to those who think the occupation can be made permanent. These hold the view that Jewish (right to) settlement of all of the land of eretz Israel can only occur with continued occupation – with Palestinian self-determination limited to less than statehood.

    The PA might need to consider the option of granting Palestinian citizenship to all refugees – giving up the right of return provided there is mutuality. The right of those with Palestinian passports to live and work in Israel, in return for the continuance of Jewish settlement in the West Bank.

  12. Angel Fish 12

    Like it or not Nations change, and Israel will not be content with the way the land is split at the moment. The Arabs who live there will just have to accept it and move on with their lives.

    • garibaldi 12.1

      Have you been in a coma all these years AF?

      • North 12.1.1

        In my bones I’m knowing that this action isn’t meant to make things better.
        The opposite. It’s to inflame. So what’s the next step in the plan?

  13. Sabine 13

    Could not have anything to do with what is considered illegal settlements or ‘high value real estate’?
    https://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/.premium-1.757177
    https://www.telesurtv.net/english/news/Jared-Kushner-Omitted-Leading-a-Foundation-Funding-Illegal-Israeli-Settlements–20171203-0023.html

    https://www.reuters.com/article/us-israel-palestinians-kushner/for-hardline-west-bank-settlers-jared-kushners-their-man-idUSKBN15G4W2

    Josh Marshall says:

    http://talkingpointsmemo.com/edblog/a-few-thoughts-on-trump-and-jerusalem

    “It basically goes like this: What keeps the conflict going is Israel’s and the international community’s indulgence of unrealistic expectations on the part of the Palestinians. The path to peace is to make it totally clear, with established facts, that the Palestinians will essentially get nothing. Nothing here would be defined as a few autonomous self-governing zones within the West Bank under over-arching Israeli security control. No capital or even foothold in East Jerusalem. Not even a demilitarized version of sovereignty. No geographical contiguity. Nothing. Basically the right to self-govern in civil matters in the parts of the West Bank where there are too many Palestinians to outnumber with Israeli settlers. Once Palestinians expectations are set to a realistic level, you can get down to negotiations.

    There are needless to say, a number of problems with this theory. But you hear it a lot as a sort of guiding theory of the case on the Zionist right. I would count it as 35% profoundly misguided idea, 65% mendacious self-assertion. That’s probably what the top Trumpers are telling themselves.

    I would be remiss if I didn’t note the obvious. Not only did the President put the region’s issues in the hands of his neophyte son-in-law. He put it in the hands of a settlement activist. Obviously nothing possibly good can come of this.”

    but yeah, hes gonna bring peace, prosperity, and the second coming of christ.
    but.her.fucking.emails.

  14. joe90 14

    He’s not well.

    Better video here — POTUS clearly slurring his words, or has a case of dry mouth. pic.twitter.com/dehhfvWts1— Mr. Smith (@GuardianRover) December 6, 2017

    https://twitter.com/GuardianRover/status/938480870863790081

  15. joe90 15

    The end times loons are excited.

    Of course they’re all tucked in, nice and safe in the US.

    John Hagee: "President Trump told me, when last we spoke regarding the embassy, that he would not disappoint us, speaking of the evangelical community. And today he has kept that promise." https://t.co/mB0tQlstMj— Right Wing Watch (@RightWingWatch) December 6, 2017

    http://www1.cbn.com/cbnnews/us/2017/july/hagees-end-times-warning-the-fuse-is-lit-every-prophetic-player-is-on-stage

  16. spikeyboy 16

    Any chance anyone can now see which foreign leader has the undivided attention of the POTUS. Heres a clue. He isn’t Russian. The two madmen trying to rule the world. It’s been like this for a while but more gentlepersons agreement. We can only hope that Lebanon does not give them a chance to invade or start bombing. This may be what is hoped for. Maybe Russia can heip to keep some calm? Who knows what comes next.

    • One Anonymous Bloke 16.1

      The POTUS’s “undivided attention” is on the POTUS. He’s throwing red meat to his base. More fool you for considering him a gentle person.

      Pooty can keep calm in his next glamour calendar photo shoot. His abs need work but.

      • spikeyboy 16.1.1

        Certainly wasn’t referring to Trump in that fashion

        • garibaldi 16.1.1.1

          Spikey, Israel is very wary of the strength of Hezbollah. Afterall ,they are actually fighting for something and did wonders against the IDF last time they clashed. Also Hezbollah has grown in strength with the defeat of ISIS.

  17. mary_a 17

    By relocating the US embassy, Trump has recognised Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, a move which could inflame more conflict in the world. But I guess this will keep the Zionist big bucks rolling in to support the Republican cause! In Trump’s brain cell deficient mind, this is all that matters, regardless of the consequences which could result.

    Also there’s a chance, to prove a point, this could be the catalyst the other lunatic Kim Jong-un needs to make his promise of nuclear retribution a reality!

    Trump, Kim Jong-un, Netanyahu … three apocalyptic war fiends ready to set the world on fire … literally! Dangerous times indeed.

    • garibaldi 17.1

      mary a , I don’t think it is wise to call Nth Korean military strategy as lunacy, it’s more like common sense for a Country in its position. Face it , the rogue Country is the USA.

  18. Cinny 18

    Whoever controls the water controls the people, mix a bit of climate change, religion and land ownership conflict into the equation. War is a hell of an income for some

    Meanwhile this news takes a bit of heat off of bibi as the submarine scandal continues.

    $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$

    https://www.reuters.com/article/us-israel-netanyahu-protests/tens-of-thousands-of-israelis-protest-against-netanyahu-corruption-idUSKBN1DW0Q8?il=0

    Where are the grown ups? god help ‘murica

  19. joe90 19

    Israel, we’ve put a match to your place, would you mind terribly just putting up with the fire.

    WASHINGTON – The United States is asking Israel to temper its response to the U.S. recognition of Jerusalem as its capital because Washington expects a backlash and is weighing the potential threat to U.S. facilities and people, according to a State Department document seen by Reuters on Wednesday.

    http://www.jpost.com/Israel-News/US-asks-Israel-to-restrain-embassy-response-in-State-Department-document-517272

  20. joe90 20

    Yeah, because people in Middle East never hold grudges and just let shit go. Idiots.

    From Kushner’s perspective, according to people familiar with his thinking, the hope was that the announcement would fulfill a longstanding promise but do little damage to the relationships he has forged with players in the Middle East, like the crown prince of Saudi Arabia, Mohammed bin Salman, widely referred to as “MBS.”

    “I think [Trump] and Jared figure that after all the posturing and a few days of riots, things go back to normal when it comes to the negotiations,” said a person close to the administration.

    https://www.politico.com/story/2017/12/06/jared-kushner-trump-jerusalem-mideast-peace-283770

  21. adam 21

    This has Pence written all over it.

    If anyone thinks he would be a good replacement for trump, I hope this exercise in insanity spells out to you how bad pence really is.

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  • Nurses to get more protection, added to ‘First Responders’ legislation
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  • PGF grant for Ventnor memorial
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  • 75th anniversary of V.E Day
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    3 weeks ago

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  • Better protection for seabirds
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    5 hours ago
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    10 hours ago
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    19 hours ago
  • Parliament returns to a safe normal
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    21 hours ago
  • Foreign Minister makes four diplomatic appointments
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    1 day ago
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  • Mycoplasma bovis eradication reaches two year milestone in good shape
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  • New payment to support Kiwis through COVID
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    2 days ago
  • PGF reset helps regional economies
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    3 days ago
  • Government exempts some home improvements from costly consents
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  • Concern at introduction of national security legislation for Hong Kong
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    4 days ago
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  • Adult kakī/black stilt numbers soar
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    5 days ago
  • Waikato-Tainui settlement story launched on 25th anniversary of Treaty signing
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  • Taita College to benefit from $32 million school redevelopment
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    5 days ago
  • Redeployment for workers in hard-hit regions
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  • $35m to build financial resilience for New Zealanders
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    6 days ago
  • New District Court Judge appointed
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    6 days ago
  • $206 million investment in upgrades at Ohakea Air Force Base
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    6 days ago
  • Review of CAA organisational culture released
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    6 days ago
  • New Board appointed at Stats NZ
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    6 days ago
  • New Principal Environment Judge
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    1 week ago
  • Digital connectivity boost for urban marae
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    1 week ago
  • Govt increases assistance to drought-stricken Hawke’s Bay farmers
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    1 week ago
  • Investment in New Zealand’s history
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    1 week ago
  • Driving prompt payments to small businesses
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    1 week ago
  • Rotorua tourist icon to be safeguarded
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    1 week ago
  • $14.7m for jobs training and education
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    1 week ago
  • Is it time to further recognise those who serve in our military?
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  • Paving the way for a fully qualified early learning workforce
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    1 week ago
  • Sport Recovery Package announced
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    1 week ago
  • Major boost in support for caregivers and children
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    1 week ago
  • Great Walks recovery on track for summer
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  • Māori – Government partnership gives whānau a new housing deal
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    2 weeks ago
  • Keeping New Zealanders Safe In The Water
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    2 weeks ago
  • Legal framework for COVID-19 Alert Level referred to select committee
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  • New Zealand condemns shocking attacks on hospital and funeral in Afghanistan
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    2 weeks ago
  • Government to close tobacco tax loophole
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    2 weeks ago
  • $62 million package to support families through the Family Court
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    2 weeks ago