National Post (Latest Edition)


Anti-is­rael vote marks for­eign pol­icy shift

- Jesse Sny­der

OT­TAWA • Canada has re­versed course and voted in favour of a United Na­tions res­o­lu­tion con­demn­ing Is­rael for its “oc­cu­pa­tion” of Pales­tinian Ter­ri­to­ries, prompt­ing a back­lash of anger from Jewish groups.

The move marks a fur­ther depar­ture be­tween the U. S. and Canada on their pos­ture to­ward Is­rael and a po­ten­tial re­ver­sal of long-stand­ing Cana­dian for­eign pol­icy.

The Trudeau govern­ment on Tues­day sup­ported a res­o­lu­tion put for­ward by the “State of Pales­tine,” North Korea, Zim­babwe and oth­ers that calls for a “just, last­ing and com­pre­hen­sive peace set­tle­ment” to the Is­rael- Pales­tine con­flict, and ex­plic­itly refers to con­tested lands be­tween the two coun­tries as “Oc­cu­pied Pales­tinian Ter­ri­to­ries.” It also cites a 2004 In­ter­na­tional Court of Jus­tice de­ci­sion that said Is­rael’s con­struc­tion of a pro­tec­tive wall in the West Bank “se­verely im­pedes the right of the Pales­tinian peo­ple to self-de­ter­mi­na­tion.”

The U. S. was among five coun­tries that re­jected the res­o­lu­tion, while Aus­tralia ab­stained. A to­tal of 164 coun­tries voted in favour, in­clud­ing the U.K., Ger­many and oth­ers.

The vote could mark a depar­ture in Cana­dian for­eign pol­icy, which has been loosely aligned with the United States’ more pro-is­rael stance since the early 2000s, when Paul Martin shifted his pos­ture away from the pre­vi­ous govern­ment. The Con­ser­va­tives un­der Stephen Harper then be­came an even more reg­u­lar sup­porter of Is­rael.

Pro- Is­rael groups blasted Prime Min­is­ter Justin Trudeau for the vote on Tues­day, say­ing it was a be­trayal of more than 10 years of staunch sup­port for the coun­try.

“Trudeau is trad­ing Canada’s bedrock prin­ci­ples of fair­ness & equal­ity for a UN Se­cu­rity Coun­cil seat,” Hil­lel Neuer, found­ing chair­man of the Geneva Sum­mit for Hu­man Rights and Democ­racy, said on Twit­ter. Neuer was re­fer­ring to a bid by Canada to get a seat on the UN Se­cu­rity Coun­cil next year.

“By vot­ing for a res­o­lu­tion co- sponsored by North Korea & Zim­babwe, he has en­tered a Faus­tian bar­gain with dic­ta­tor­ships that does not bode well for a free & demo­cratic so­ci­ety.”

He said Canada had “joined the jack­als” in a sep­a­rate tweet.

The vote also comes amid in­creas­ingly staunch sup­port of Is­rael on the part of U. S. Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump, who on Mon­day said the coun­try will no longer con­sider Is­raeli set­tle­ments to be il­le­gal un­der in­ter­na­tional law, re­vers­ing decades of U.S. for­eign pol­icy.

Adam Austen, a spokesman for For­eign Af­fairs Min­is­ter Chrys­tia Free­land, said Canada re­mains fully op­posed to the “sin­gling out” of Is­rael, “and has voted against the vast ma­jor­ity of these yearly Is­rael-re­lated votes” at the UN.

“In keep­ing with Canada’s long- stand­ing po­si­tion, it is im­por­tant at this time to re­it­er­ate our com­mit­ment to a two- state so­lu­tion and the equal rights and self- de­ter­mi­na­tion of all peo­ples,” Austen said.

Joel Reit­man, co- chair of the Cen­tre for Is­rael and Jewish Af­fairs, said he was


dis­ap­pointed in the vote say­ing he had re­ceived as­sur­ances from Free­land that Canada would main­tain its po­si­tion to­ward Is­rael.

“That nei­ther this res­o­lu­tion nor any other cur­rently be­ing con­sid­ered even ac­knowl­edge the ob­scene bar­rage of Pales­tinian-launched rock­ets and mis­siles raining down on Is­rael’s civil­ian pop­u­la­tion re­flects just how dis­torted and one-sided these res­o­lu­tions are,” he said.

Jeff Rosen­thal, an­other co- chair at CIJA, called the vote a “dis­tress­ing depar­ture not only from the Cana­dian vot­ing record at the UN, but a be­trayal of long- stand­ing Cana­dian for­eign pol­icy that re­jects pre­judg­ment of the out­come of ne­go­ti­a­tions be­tween Is­rael and the Pales­tini­ans.”

“Pales­tinian self- de­ter­mi­na­tion can­not come at the ex­pense of Is­rael’s se­cu­rity,” he added.

Michael Mostyn, head of B’nai Brith Canada, re­peated claims that the vote marked a depar­ture for Canada, say­ing its “pos­i­tive vot­ing record on these res­o­lu­tions for the past few years ought to con­tinue.”

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