In a break from precedent, Canada voted in favour of a motion supporting self-determination for the Palestinians at the United Nations General Assembly last December – despite the objections of Israel, the USA and the Israel lobby in Canada. Most people were surprised, because for the last decade Canada has always voted faithfully with Israel. Does this augur a significant policy change? How did we vote on 12 other important resolutions? Here is the record. You be the judge…..
UNGA Resolutions on Israel-Palestine 2019
Summary report on how Canada voted
Every December, the United Nations General Assembly votes on a wide range of important international issues. Israel is always a special target for criticism because, for 73 years, it has refused to comply with UN resolutions.
In the General Assembly (and around the world) support for the human rights of Palestinians is overwhelming. In most cases resolutions, critical of Israel are supported by a significant majority of UN members. Only a handful of countries, including Israel, the USA, Canada and a number of tiny south pacific nations, normally disagree. (Depending on the resolution, there can also be a significant number of abstentions.)
Why does Canada usually vote with Israel?
Officials at Global Affairs Canada give 3 reasons for Canada’s steadfast support for Israel on these resolutions:
- the same resolutions get repeated every year – “It’s just theatre,”, I was told by a senior GAC official
- there are “too many” of them,
- they “unfairly focus on Israel”, while ignoring abuses committed by Palestinians
Of course, there is substance to this.
- It is “theatre” (and one of the few opportunities where Palestinians get to present their grievances to an international audience).
- There ARE many resolutions, because Israel has been in repeated violation of many UN resolutions, some of them for more than 70 years.
- And they DO focus on Israel because Israel is, in the eyes of the international community, the main transgressor in the conflict.
A great deal of media attention was focussed on the fact that, breaking with historical precedent, this year Canada voted IN FAVOUR of a resolution supporting Palestinian self determination. In response, Trudeau came under hostile fire from the Israel lobby and even from senior US politicians like former US Ambassador to the UN, Nikki Haley who said Trudeau had made a “deal with the devil”.
Mr. Trudeau defended himself by reassuring Israel’s supporters that Canada remains “steadfast” in its support of Israel and arguing that the vote was consistent with Canada’s longstanding support for a 2 state solution.
Global Affairs insiders note that Canada was caught in an awkward squeeze, as the UN vote came on the DAY AFTER US Secretary of State Michael Pompeo announced that the US no longer sees Israeli settlements in the West Bank as “illegal” – in direct contravention of Canada’s often stated position (and of UN Security Council resolutions).
Some observers link the vote to Canada’s attempt to save our bid to join the UN Security council. Perhaps that was a factor, but our chances seem very remote. As a former Canadian ambassador to the UN noted, “At this point, that seems like a desperate “hail Mary” play”.
So, how did we vote overall?
In summary – 1 vote in favour, 1 abstention and 11 votes against human rights for Palestinians.
Here is the record on all 13 resolutions, based on extensive research by the OFIP research department. (For simplicity, we give here only a brief summary of the intent of each resolution. More information, including a full text of each resolution and a country by country voting record can be found by clicking on the resolution number following the title.)
- Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People (A/74/L.14)
- Requests the Committee to exert all efforts to promote the right to self‑determination of Palestinians and to support the achievement of an end to Israeli occupation.
- AGAINST (Voting was 92 in favour to 13 against (including Canada, Israel, USA…), with 61 abstentions)
- Peaceful settlement of the question of Palestine (A/74/L.15)
- Calls for Israeli withdrawal from the Palestinian territory occupied since 1967, including East Jerusalem; and a just resolution of the problem of Palestine refugees in conformity with Resolution 194.
- AGAINST. (Voting was 147 in favour to 7 against (including Canada, Israel, USA…), with 13 abstentions.
- UN to monitor for Palestinian Rights of the Secretariat (A/74/L.16)
- Requests the UN Secretariat to continue to monitor developments relevant to the question of Palestine.
- AGAINST (Voting was 87 in favour to 23 against (including Canada, Israel, USA….), with 54 abstentions.)
- Special information programme on the question of Palestine of the Department of Global Communications of the Secretariat (A/74/L.17)
- Requests the UN Secretariat disseminate information on activities of the United Nations system relating to the question of Palestine and peace efforts.
- AGAINST. (Voting was 144 in favour to 8 against including Canada, Israel, USA…)
- Permanent sovereignty of the Palestinian people in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, (…) over their natural resources (A/C.2/74/L.45)
- Demands that Israel cease exploiting, damaging, causing loss or depleting and endangering natural resources in the Occupied Palestinian Territory
- AGAINST. (Voting was 160 in favour to 6 against (including Canada, Israel, USA…) with 15 abstentions.)
- The right of the Palestinian people to self-determination (A/C.3/74/L.58)
- Reaffirms the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination, including the right to their independent State of Palestine.
- IN FAVOUR. (Voting was 167 in favour (including Canada) to 5 against (Israel, Marshall Islands, Micronesia, Nauru, United States), with 11 abstentions.)
- Assistance to Palestine refugees (A/C.4/74/L.10)
- Notes with regret that repatriation or compensation of the refugees, as provided for in Resolution 194, has not yet been effected; Extends UNRWA’s mandate until 30 June 2023;
- ABSTAIN. (Voting was 169 in favour to 2 against (Israel, United States), with 9 abstentions including Canada)
- Persons displaced as a result of the June 1967 and subsequent hostilities (A/C.4/74/L.11)
- Reaffirms the right of all persons displaced as a result of the June 1967 and subsequent hostilities to return to their homes or former places of residence.
- AGAINST. (Voting was 162 votes in favour to 7 against (including Canada, Israel, USA…)
- Operations of the UNRWA (A/C.4/74/L.12)
- Expresses deep concern about UNRWA’s critical financial situation, exacerbated by the 2018 suspension of contributions from its largest single voluntary donor (ed. note: i.e. USA)
- AGAINST. (Voting was 167 in favour to 6 against (including Canada, Israel, USA…).
- Palestine refugees’ properties and their revenues (A/C.4/74/L.13)
- Reaffirms that the Palestine refugees are entitled to their property and to the income derived therefrom, in conformity with the principles of equity and justice; Requests that the Secretary‑General take all appropriate steps to protect Arab properties, assets and property rights in Israel.
- AGAINST. (Voting was 163 in favour to 6 against (including Canada, Israel, USA….), with 12 abstentions.
- Investigation of Israeli Practices Affecting the Human Rights of the Palestinian (A/C.4/74/L.14)
- Demands that Israel cooperate with the Special Committee and requests that the latter continue to investigate Israeli policies and practices, especially its violations of the Geneva Convention.
- AGAINST. (Voting was 81 in favour to 13 against (including Canada), with 80 abstentions.)
- Israeli settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, and the occupied Syrian Golan (A/C.4/74/L.15)
- Condemns Israel’s settlement activities in the Occupied Palestinian Territory; Deplores Israel’s construction and expansion of settlements in and around occupied East Jerusalem, as well as its plans to demolish the Palestinian village of Khan al‑Ahmar, in contravention of international law.
- AGAINST. (Voting was 157 in favour to 7 against (including Canada, Israel, USA ….) with 15 abstentions.)
- Israeli practices affecting the human rights of the Palestinian people in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem (A/C.4/74/L.16)
- Condemns all acts of violence, especially use of force by Israeli occupying forces against Palestinian civilians, in violation of international law. In particular, the Assembly condemns violence in the Gaza Strip, including against journalists, medical personnel and humanitarian personnel.
- AGAINST. (Voting was 157 in favour to 9 against (Canada, Israel, USA, Australia…), with 13 abstentions.)
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