The Green Party of Canada (GPC) has announced that a motion adopted in convention last December to increase pressure on Israel for its violations of international law has been ratified by an on-line vote conducted among its general membership. It now stands as GPC policy. Read more…
The Green Party of Canada’s long, and sometimes acrimonious, debate over its Israel/Palestine policy has come to a conclusion. By an overwhelming 90% vote, its general membership has approved a policy aimed at increasing pressure on Israel for its continued violation of international law and Palestinian human rights.
The final result was announced by the Green Party in the form of a letter from outside consulting firm Simply Voting, which audited the count.
The GPC has struggled with its Israel/Palestine policy for over 6 months. An initial motion, calling for the party to support the international movement to boycott Israel (called BDS Movement for Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions) over its violation of human rights and occupation of the West Bank and Gaza, was submitted to the Party’s regular convention in August 2016. Leading up to the convention, the motion had been severely criticized by Israel lobby groups who labelled it “anti-Semitic”. Their bitter attack on the Green Party and on its leader Elizabeth May, contributed to May’s disavowal of the motion, which she opposed at the convention.
Nonetheless, to the dismay of GPC leadership, the motion passed handily in convention. A shaken Elizabeth May even threatened to resign. In order to avoid a disaster, the party quickly decided to hold a special convention 5 months later to review the decision.
In the preparation for the special convention, a consensus resolution was worked out between May’s group and Dimitri Lascaris the de facto leader of those seeking a stronger GPC statement on Palestinian human rights.
The consensus resolution avoided any explicit link to the contentious BDS movement, but endorsed its objectives and supported the idea of bringing pressure on Israel through a boycott of consumer products. The new resolution actually went further than the August motion because it not only called for an end to the Israeli occupation of Palestinian territories, but also called for equality for the 1.5 million Palestinian citizens of Israel and supported the right of return for the over 5 million Palestinian refugees. It also urges the International Criminal Court to investigate alleged Israeli war crimes.
According to party rules, this new resolution had to be submitted to an on-line “ratification vote” by all GPC members before becoming party policy. That vote has now been completed and the motion is now official GPC policy.
Now that the dust has settled, what will the GPC do? It now has a strong policy supporting human rights for Palestinians. But it remains that only 17% of its members participated in the on-line ratification process for all the resolutions arising from the December meeting, so it is probably fair to conclude that many GPC members are still not very aware of, or very concerned about, the Israel/Palestine issue. But the new resolution opens the door for those who want to do more education among GPC members on the issue.
One possibility would be to organize an official GPC trip to visit Israel/Palestine and report back to the membership. Environmental issues are very high on the political agenda in Israel/Palestine, with water at the top of the list.A representative delegation of GPC officials from national or provincial executive bodies could spend a week or ten days visiting Israel, the West Bank and even Gaza. It could be interesting to meet with Israeli and Palestinian environmental organizations, including Israel’s small Green Party, for example, to understand the issues from their perspectives.
Another idea would be to organize a cross-Canada speaking tour for a knowledgeable environmental expert from the region (e.g. former Yale University professor Mazin Qumsiyeh who now lives in Bethlehem and is director of The Palestinian Museum of Natural History) to raise awareness about environmental issues at stake in Israel/Palestine.
GPC members interested in the Israel/Palestine issue will now have to decide their next steps.
“Raise the issue, but lower the temperature”
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