Israel protests Canada for UN vote supporting Palestinian state – The Globe and Mail

Israel protests Canada for UN vote supporting Palestinian state - The Globe and Mail
Canada reverses UN stance on Palestinians in break with U.S. over settlements
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Palestinian Ambassador to the United Nations Karen Riyad Mansour listens to speakers during a meeting on the Middle East, including the Palestinian question, Wednesday, Nov. 20, 2019 at United Nations headquarters.

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Israel has condemned Canada for voting for a United Nations resolution that calls for the establishment of a Palestinian state, with Israels ambassador and others expressing concern that Ottawa is helping to delegitimize the Jewish state.

Nimrod Barkan, Israels ambassador to Canada, told The Globe and Mail on Wednesday that his country intends to lodge a formal protest after Canada joined 165 other countries by voting Yes on Tuesday for a resolution entitled the Right of the Palestinian people to self-determination at the UN General Assemblys Third Committee.

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Over the past decade, both Conservative and Liberal governments have annually voted against the resolution, which, among other things, urges an end to the Israeli occupation and calls for the preservation of the territorial unity, contiguity and integrity of all of the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem.

We regret the Canadian change and we will express our regret officially to the Canadian representative in Israel, hopefully next week, Mr. Barkan said in an interview. We think the resolution is not a substantive resolution, but an attempt to delegitimize Israel and is part of the whole package that should be rejected out of hand.

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Mr. Barkan said Israel was only given a few hours notice on Tuesday that Canada intended to vote for the UN resolution.

A similar result came after the U.S.-Israel bond became even stronger during the first Gulf War. Saddam Hussein attempted to destroy the U.S.-Arab coalition against him by launching Scud missiles directly into Tel Aviv. But Israel's promise to the U.S. not to interfere in the war held firm and the U.S. rewarded Israel with more military support. King Hussein of Jordan then realized that his better move was to cut ties with Iraq and make some kind of peace deal with Israel instead. He did just that in 1994.

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It was a surprise … we had no inclination or hint that Canada would change its vote on the regular annual UN resolutions and we trusted Canada, knowing that this is a circus of anti-Israeli resolutions, he said.

Before delving into that history and reasoning, it's important to get a full picture of the Trump administration's key pro-Israel moves since it came into office. Most summaries of the Middle East policies from this White House will likely mark this as its third key pro-Israel step, along with the decision to move the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem and recognize Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights.

The ambassador would not say if he believed Canadas change of position is an attempt by the Trudeau government to win over Arab countries in its quest to obtain a rotating seat on the UN Security Council next year.

Islamic Jihad, like Hamas and Hezbollah, is funded mostly by Iran. The Trump administration has only indirectly made a dent there by working to choke off Iran economically by imposing harsher sanctions and exiting the 2015 Iran nuclear deal. Also, Iran's backing of those groups over the years has helped them amass a large cache of weapons that would take years for them to fully utilize.

Tuesdays resolution was opposed by Israel, the United States and three Pacific island countries that depend heavily on U.S. aid and tend to vote with Washington at the UN: the Marshall Islands, Nauru and the Federated States of Micronesia. The resolution was sponsored by North Korea, Egypt, Nicaragua, Zimbabwe and the Palestinian Authority.

It's still important to remember that U.S. policy on Israel still can't directly influence every factor that plays into the day-to-day hostilities in the region. For example, last week's 400-plus rocket barrage on Israeli civilian areas launched by Palestinian Islamic Jihad was in response to Israel's decision to assassinate that group's leader in a surgical strike.

The UN is not court. It is an exercise in public relations and they have an automatic majority that votes against Israel … so we dont think Canada should co-operate with this exercise, Mr. Barkan added.

Foreign Affairs Minister François-Philippe Champagne said Canada has explained its position to its allies and has been in touch with members of the Jewish community about its decision to support the UN resolution.

I think people in the Jewish community in Canada and across the world see Canada as an ally but there are times when we must express our opinion and our position as we did yesterday at the UN, Mr. Champagne said in French, later adding that Canadas friendship with Israel is strong and remains.

Bnai Brith Canada chief executive officer Michael Mostyn said his organization is disappointed by the vote.

Jeffrey Rosenthal, co-chair of the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs, said the vote represents a distressing departure and a betrayal of long-standing foreign policy.

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Clearly, the intent of the Convention was to prevent belligerents from forcibly moving their citizens to other territories, for malignant purposes— something completely different than the Israel government allowing its citizens to willingly relocate and settle in territories without any current sovereignty, to which Jews have The settlement debate is part of the decades-old narrative created by the Palestinian Arabs and their Western enablers to write a false historical account that legitimizes Palestinian claims while air-brushing away Jewish history.longstanding legal claim, and, whether or not the area may become a future Palestinian state, should certainly be a place where a person could live, even if he or she is a Jew.

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Canada voted for a UN resolution on Tuesday in support of Palestinians' right to self-determination.

The settlement debate had also been hijacked by the Arab world and its Western apologists who, willingly blind to history, international law, and fact, continued to assign the blame for the absence of peace on the perceived offenses of occupation and Israeli truculence. Thus, for instance, then-Secretary Hillary Clinton and her predecessor, Condoleezza Rice, had both referred to the nuisance Israel caused by letting Jews live in the 'West Bank', against the wishes of the Palestinian Arabs who view that territory as once and forever theirs, as “unhelpful” in seeking a viable solution to Palestinian Arab statehood.

The vote marks a major departure for Canada, which has declined to support substantially the same resolution through 14 consecutive votes since Stephen Harper came to power in 2006.

Tuesday's resolution was opposed by Israel, the United States and three Pacific island nations that depend heavily on U.S. aid and tend to vote with Washington at the UN: the Marshall Islands, Nauru and the Federated States of Micronesia.

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Speaking on background, an official at Global Affairs Canada said the vote sends a message that Canada does not agree with U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo's assertion on Monday that Israeli settlements in the Occupied Territories are "not, per se, inconsistent with international law."

The decision has angered the Palestinians. They say it would embolden a section of the Israeli society that has attacked Palestinian livelihoods in a bid to grow their influence in the occupied territory, be it by burning olive groves, attacking note-0farmers or note-1the Israeli military trying to sequester more Palestinian land for new settlement construction.

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The official added that Canada has in the recent past opposed motions that are consistent with its own policy positions — to send a message that it considered the UN's focus on Israel's sins one-sided and inconsistent with the treatment of other nations. The official said that today's vote reflected core Canadian principles on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, which include embracing a two-state solution with viable borders for both peoples.

The settlers, who overwhelmingly form part of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahus right-wing constituency, said the US policy change paved the way for annexation of the settlements, a move that would put an end to any hopes of a contiguous Palestinian state.

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The vote represents a sudden shift in the direction of Canada's policies on the Middle East, which began to drift toward a more pro-Israeli stance under former Liberal prime minister Paul Martin. That trend accelerated dramatically under the Conservative government of Stephen Harper.

Other settlers rejoiced about the American U-turn. Oded Revivi, head of the Yesha Council, an umbrella group for the settlers, said the time had come for the settlers and the government to capitalise on the American decision and annex the territory.

There are 16 UN resolutions on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict that come up every year, dealing with issues such as sovereignty, refugees, East Jerusalem, human rights, settlements and holy places. All of them are passed by overwhelming majorities while being opposed by the United States and Israel, which are sometimes joined by a handful of other nations. Those other nations typically include an assortment of Pacific islands — none of which can boast the population of Kelowna, B.C. — and Canada.

The leagues secretary general, Ahmed note-7Gheit, said the decision would result in "more violence and cruelty" against the Palestinians at the hands of the Israeli settlers and "undermines any possibility" of achieving peace.

In 2003, Canada voted yes to 13 of the 16 resolutions on Israel and abstained on three. In 2004, it recorded its first two "No" votes, alongside the U.S. and Israel, and supported only 12 resolutions. After Stephen Harper came to power in 2006, the "No" and abstention votes gradually increased.

Mr Netanyahu has previously vowed to annex the area, a move that would swallow up most of the West Bank territory sought by the Palestinians, leaving them with little more than isolated enclaves. Israel sees the territory as a security asset.

After Harper won a majority government in 2011, Canada voted "No" on 14 of the 16 resolutions, abstaining on another. From that point onward, the only "Yes" vote before today was on a non-controversial motion calling for assistance for Palestinians displaced by conflict.

Israeli right-wing leaders also welcomed US Secretary of State Mike Pompeos announcement. Although it is largely symbolic, it fueled calls from settler supporters for increased construction or even the annexation of parts of the West Bank.

Trudeau's Liberal government has maintained the voting pattern it inherited from the Harper government — until now.

That voting pattern continued in spite of the fact that it clearly undermined another Canadian foreign policy goal: winning a seat on the UN Security Council.

The resolution that Canada supported today does not include harsh language condemning Israel — language Canada has objected to in the past. It does, however, contain language that criticizes the barrier wall Israel has built close to (but not always on) the 1949 armistice line that most countries consider to be the real border of Israel.

It also stresses "the urgency of achieving without delay an end to the Israeli occupation that began in 1967" and calls on all states "to continue to support and assist the Palestinian people in the early realization of their right to self-determination."

A Global Affairs Canada official, speaking on background, told CBC that of all the resolutions, this was the easiest to adopt. The official said Canada could vote differently than it has in the recent past on resolutions regarding Israel that are coming up in November and December, although there are no current plans to do so.

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It is unusual for a country to switch votes at the UN directly from a "No" to a "Yes" on the same issue. Usually, nations signalling a change of policy simply abstain from the vote. By reversing its vote, Canada's UN delegation sent a clear message that immediately caused strong reactions at home.

"This afternoon, Canada joined with the anti-Israel chorus at the UN and voted in favour of a General Assembly resolution co-sponsored by North Korea, Zimbabwe and the PLO that condemns Israel's presence in Jerusalem and characterizes it as 'Occupied Palestinian Territory'.

"Canadian support for the resolution represents a dramatic departure from a 10-year record of principled opposition to UN resolutions that single out Israel for condemnation and ignore Palestinian intransigence and provocations aimed at sabotaging efforts to advance peace and reconciliation."

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CIJA National Co-Chair Joel Reitman added that "while Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland offered assurances that no other changes in vote were being contemplated, we are very disappointed that the Government of Canada did not stand firm in opposition to the annual Israel-bashing ritual at the UN General Assembly.

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"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."

But the change was welcomed by Canadians for Justice and Peace in the Middle East, a group which has long lobbied for what it calls a more even-handed approach to the conflict.

"We are extremely pleased that the Liberal government has voted in support of Palestinian self-determination at the UN," said CJPME's Miranda Gallo. "This is a long overdue step and is entirely consistent with the government's support for a two-state solution in Israel-Palestine. In fact, Canada could not support a 'two state' solution if it did not support the creation of a Palestinian state."

Noting that "the Liberal government has changed its position as compared to previous years," Gallo added: "This may be a slap on the wrist to the Trump government to communicate that, given Pompeo's outlandish statement in support of illegal Israeli colonies, Canada feels the U.S. is failing to provide fair leadership on the Israel-Palestine conflict.

"The Liberal government may have also concluded that it can no longer ape the lopsided positions asserted by Israel and the U.S. on these resolutions, which have overwhelming support at the UN and overwhelming support among many Canadians."

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