The move marks a further departure between the U.S. and Canada on their posture toward Israel and a potential reversal of long-standing Canadian policy
Canada has reversed course and voted in favour of a United Nations resolution condemning Israel for its “occupation” of Palestinian Territories, prompting a backlash of anger from Jewish groups.
The move marks a further departure between the U.S. and Canada on their posture toward Israel and a potential reversal of long-standing Canadian foreign policy.
The Trudeau government on Tuesday supported a resolution put forward by “the state of Palestine”, North Korea, Zimbabwe and others that calls for a “just, lasting and comprehensive peace settlement” to the Israel-Palestine conflict, and explicitly refers to contested lands between the two countries as “Occupied Palestinian Territories.” It also cites a 2004 International Court of Justice decision that said Israel’s construction of a protective wall in the West Bank “severely impedes the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination.”
The U.S. was among five countries that rejected the resolution, while Australia abstained. A total of 164 countries voted in favour, including the U.K., Germany and others.
The vote change is dramatic. If it wanted to shift, Trudeau's government could have moved from a No, as it voted last year with U.S., to an Abstain, as Australia voted today. Instead, they jumped all the way to a Yes—for the first time in years and breaking bi-partisan tradition. pic.twitter.com/qw3CeX4ViV
— Hillel Neuer (@HillelNeuer) November 19, 2019
The vote could mark a departure in Canadian foreign policy, which has been loosely aligned with the United States’ more pro-Israel stance since the early 2000s, when Paul Martin shifted his posture away from the previous government. The Conservatives under Stephen Harper then became an even more regular supporter of Israel.
Pro-Israel groups blasted Prime Minister Justin Trudeau for the vote on Tuesday, saying it was a betrayal of more than 10 years of staunch support for the country.
“Trudeau is trading Canada’s bedrock principles of fairness & equality for a UN Security Council seat,” Hillel Neuer, founding chairman of the Geneva Summit for Human Rights and Democracy, said on Twitter. Neuer was referring to a bid by Canada to gain a UN Security Council seat next year. “By voting for a resolution co-sponsored by North Korea & Zimbabwe, he has entered a Faustian bargain with dictatorships that does not bode well for a free & democratic society.”
He said Canada had “joined the jackals” in a separate tweet.
The vote also comes amid increasingly staunch support of Israel on the part of U.S. President Donald Trump, who on Monday said the country will no longer consider Israeli settlements to be illegal under international law, reversing decades of U.S. foreign policy.
Adam Austen, a spokesman for Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland, said Canada remains fully opposed to the “singling out” of Israel, “and has voted against the vast majority of these yearly Israel-related votes” at the UN.
“In keeping with Canada’s long-standing position, it is important at this time to reiterate our commitment to a two-state solution and the equal rights and self-determination of all peoples,” Austen said.
Joel Reitman, co-chair of the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs, said he was disappointed in the vote, saying he had received assurances from Freeland that Canada would maintain its position toward Israel.
In keeping with Canada’s long-standing position, it is important at this time to reiterate our commitment to a two-state solution
“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,” he said.
Jeff Rosenthal, another co-chair at CIJA, called the vote a “distressing departure not only from the Canadian voting record at the UN, but a betrayal of longstanding Canadian foreign policy that rejects prejudgment of the outcome of negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians.”
“Palestinian self-determination cannot come at the expense of Israel’s security,” he added.
Michael Mostyn, head of B’nai Brith Canada, repeated claims that the vote marked a departure for Canada, saying its “positive voting record on these resolutions for the past few years ought to continue.”