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Daily News Analysis

Canada’s pro-Israel stand results in loss to Norway, Ireland for Security Council seat

Ayman Ahmed

By rejecting Canada’s bid for a UN Security Council seat, members of the General Assembly have delivered a stunning rebuke to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government.

He may be a likeable person but Trudeau’s policies relating to Palestine-Israel can hardly be distinguished from his predecessor, Stephen Harper's.

“The Trudeau government’s anti-Palestinian voting record at the UN undoubtedly contributed to its failure to gain a seat on the Security Council,” said Karen Rodman, Director of JustPeaceAdvocates, a Canadian human rights organization.

“Those who support Palestinian rights should rejoice,” said Ms. Rodman whose organization had led a three-week campaign urging UN ambassadors not to support Canada’s bid until it demonstrates respect for international law.

What irked most Canadians was the open declaration by then Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland on a visit to Israel in November 2018, that Canada would be “an asset for Israel” at the Security Council table.

Canadians want their government to respect international law and not side with rights abusers. A clear majority of Canadians are opposed to Israel’s egregious crimes against the Palestinians.

Leading to today’s vote, more than 1300 Canadians and other prominent peace activists had signed a letter urging UN ambassadors to reject Canada’s bid for a seat at the Security Council.

It was also backed by more than 100 organizations across Canada.

This campaign so worried the Trudeau government that earlier this month, Canada’s ambassador to the UN, Marc-Andre Blanchard, sent a letter (PDF) to other UN ambassadors to defend Canada’s position on Israel-Palestine.

Blanchard failed to offer a convincing explanation for Canada's dismal record on voting against Palestinian interests and rights at the UN, hence the vote outcome today.

Canada lost in the first ballot to both Norway that got 130 votes (population 5.3 million) and Ireland (population 4.9 million) that got 128 votes.

Canada came a distant third with 108 votes of the General Assembly members.

A poll, conducted by EKOS Research Associates, and co-sponsored by Canadians for Justice and Peace in the Middle East (CJPME), Independent Jewish Voices Canada (IJV), and the United Network for Justice and Peace in Palestine-Israel (UNJPPI), revealed that many Canadians want the government to increase its support for Palestinian human rights.

“The poll also found three out of four Canadians want their government to express opposition to Israeli annexation, while almost half support going so far as to impose sanctions on Israel,” said CJPME in a statement issued today after the UN vote.

Over the last 20 years, Canada has abandoned its principled stand on Palestine and slavishly followed Washington’s lead.

“Since 2000, it voted ‘No’ to 166 different General Assembly resolutions on Palestine,” wrote Dr Jonathan Kuttab, International Human Rights lawyer, in an opinion piece in Al Jazeera.

Contrasting Canada’s record with Ireland and Norway, the other two contenders for the Security Council seat, Dr. Kuttab stated they consistently showed different position on issues pertaining to Palestine.

“Dublin and Oslo have been overwhelmingly supportive of Palestine at the UN.

“They voted ‘Yes’ 251 and 249 times respectively on resolutions related to Palestinian rights since 2000. Canada voted ‘Yes’ to 87 similar resolutions, but a whopping 85 of those were from 2000 to 2010,” Dr Kuttab wrote.

Canada repeatedly chose to go against international opinion and refused to condemn Israel for its human rights violations and illegal settlements.

“The Trudeau government has not only isolated Canada from international opinion regarding Palestinian rights at the UN, but its positions contravene the wishes of most Canadians regarding the long beleaguered Palestinians according to a recent Ekos poll”, explained Ms. Rodman.

“By rejecting Canada’s Security Council bid the international community also delivered a blow to the Israel lobby”, she noted.

“The Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs and B’nai Brith shouldn’t be determining Canada’s voting at the UN,” said the Canadian human rights activist.

Will the Trudeau government take heed or continue to kowtow to the Zionist lobby ignoring the wishes of a clear majority of Canadians?

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