Israel, New Zealand in spat over new ambassador

JERUSALEM (AFP) - Israel is refusing to accept the credentials of New Zealand's new ambassador because he was also appointed as his country's representative to the Palestinian Authority, an official said on Monday.

Foreign ministry spokesman Emmanuel Nahshon said the decision to prevent Jonathan Curr from taking up the post came after Israel discovered he was also to present a "letter of introduction" to the PA.

New Zealand does not recognise Palestine as a state and so instead of credentials its ambassador submits a letter of introduction. Curr had been due to present his credentials to Israeli President Reuven Rivlin later this week.

"The story has nothing to do with New Zealand, it's a rule of protocol that has been in place for years," Nahshon said.

"An ambassador accredited to Israel cannot be the same person to hand a letter of introduction to the Palestinian Authority," he said. "If such a situation had existed in the past, we were not aware of it."

Curr is New Zealand's ambassador to Turkey and is based there, as Ankara does not have an embassy in Israel, Haaretz newspaper said.

Nahshon said he was confident a solution to the problem could be found.