Under Harper, Canada and Israel were “best friends”. Last week Stephane Dion outlined the new Trudeau Doctrine on Israel/Palestine. Israel has been downgraded to “strong ally and friend”. What’s the difference? Read more.
A short press release from the Office of Global Affairs Minister Stephane Dion on January 24th, had many observers talking enthusiastically about the change in “tone” of the Trudeau government toward Israel.
“Canada warns Israel about new settlements”, noted The Citizen’s Lee Berthiaume, approvingly.
There is definitely a change in tone.
Mr. Harper used to say Canada was Israel’s “best friend”. Instead, Dion has downgraded Israel to “strong ally and friend”. He has also clearly indicated that Canada feels continued settlement construction by Israel is not “helpful” to a peaceful settlement. That is new. It appears Mr. Trudeau is not going to publicly endorse everything done by the government of Mr. Netanyahu.
But carefully nested in the short press release was an enunciation of what can be called the new “Trudeau doctrine” with respect to Israel. It used words which must have been music to the ears of the Israeli government and to its supporters in Canada
“Canada believes (…) that negotiations provide the only viable path to peace,” said the press release. “Unilateral actions, such as Palestinian initiatives toward statehood in international forums (…) are unhelpful and constitute serious obstacles to achieving a comprehensive, just and lasting peace.”
Translation? Canada will continue to block any attempts by Palestinians to advance their cause through the UN or in other international organizations (like the International Criminal Court).
This new Trudeau doctrine is carefully structured to appeal to those who are concerned about Israeli aggression, while at the same time, reassuring the Israel lobby that Israel continues to have Canada’s full support. (After all, the press release said Canada is a friend and ally of Israel, not of Palestine or the Palestinians.)
It also goes a long way to explaining some surprising Canadian votes at the UN last December. Many observers were shocked when Canada voted against several motions relating to such issues as Palestinian sovereignty over its natural resources which Israel now controls. Those motions were approved overwhelmingly by the UN General Assembly over the objections of only Canada, Israel, the USA and a few Pacific micro states. Under Harper this was expected, but many had hoped that Canada would show a new direction at the UN.
By insisting that Palestinian statehood can only come about through negotiations with Israel, and not through international means, Canada effectively gives Israel a veto over when and how the Palestinians will ever get a state… or justice. Which is not likely to be anytime soon…