Israel's New Zealand embassy reopens, signaling stronger ties
Israel reopened its embassy in New Zealand's capital, Wellington, Monday after an eight-year absence, DPA reported.
New Zealand's Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade did not publicize the embassy's location on its website until after the opening because protestors said they would disrupt it.
Plans to reopen the embassy were first announced in May, and the ambassador-designate, Shemi Tzur, was named in November.
The embassy closed in 2002 because of financial reasons, and Israel's ambassador to Australia was accredited to New Zealand.
Relations between Israel and New Zealand deteriorated in 2004 after two Mossad agents were caught and jailed for trying to illegally obtain New Zealand passports.
A third suspected Mossad agent, a former Israeli diplomat, stole the identity of a quadriplegic New Zealander to fraudulently obtain his passport.
New Zealand's prime minister at the time, Helen Clark, suspended high-level diplomatic relations until Israel apologized in 2005.
Current Prime Minister John Key, who was elected in 2008, is of Jewish descent.
New Zealand's 3News television news reported in early April that a new protest group, No Israeli Embassy in Wellington, would protest outside the new embassy.
The station reported that the group would protest Israel's treatment of Palestinians as well as the reported use of passports by Mossad spies.