Canada was one of only 7 countries defending Israel in the United Nations General Assembly last week. Canada voted with Israel, the USA and a handful of Pacific Island microstates to defend Israel’s occupation of the West Bank and Gaza, and opposing self determination for Palestinians. Read more…
When Prime Minister Trudeau was elected in 2015, he proudly announced “Canada is back” on the international scene. Many assumed that, among other things, Canada would take a more balanced attitude toward the Israel/Palestine issue, dropping Steven Harper’s aggressive insistence that Canada was Israel’s “best friend”.
Based on Canada’s voting at the UN, however, they were mistaken. Under Trudeau, the Canadian government has continued to systematically vote against any UN resolutions critical of Israel, a policy that was actually initiated by the short-lived Paul Martin Liberal government.
Last week, six resolutions were presented for consideration by the General Assembly, ranging from reasserting that the Israeli settlements in the West Bank and Jerusalem are indeed illegal under international law, to supporting the Palestinian right to self determination.
One of the resolutions condemned Israeli settlement activity and called upon it to withdraw to the pre-1967 line. This motion is similar to another one which was unanimously passed by the UN Security Council last December. At the time, former Canadian Ambassador to the UN Paul Heinbecker commented “the security council vote reflects what the world thinks.’
Heinbecker’s assessment was spectacularly confirmed last week, as 157 nations voted in favor of the text, seven opposed it and eight abstained.
Most of Canada’s allies, including all the European Union’s member states voted to support the resolution.
Canada was one of only seven which opposed the resolution, along with the Israel, the USA, and a small coterie of tiny pacific Island states – Nauru, Micronesia, Marshal Islands, and the Solomon Islands.
Is Israel being unfairly “singled out” for condemnation?
Israel’s supporters often complain that these annual UN votes show that Israel is being “singled out”.
But why is the UN “singling out Israel”? As UN Secretary-General António Guterres put it: “The Question of Palestine is inextricably linked with the history of the United Nations and is one of the longest unresolved issues on the Organization’s agenda. Seventy years since the adoption of General Assembly Resolution 181, a sovereign and independent State of Palestine has yet to emerge alongside the State of Israel.”
While the rest of the world knows where Canada stands on the Israel/Palestine issue, the Trudeau government does not make much effort to tell Canadians how isolated we are. Global Affairs Canada issued no press release commenting on, or justifying, our vote. Disappointingly, our isolation at the UN was not commented on by any mainstream Canadian media, including the Globe, Toronto Star or the CBC.
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