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Thursday, October 2, 2014

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Canada casts 9 votes defending Israel at UN

Tags: Ontario Canada Baird United Nations
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John Baird

Canada has stood up once again for Israel on the world stage.

Member states voted on a series of resolutions at the United Nations General Assembly Nov. 10 that were explicitly or implicitly critical of Israel, and Canada voted “no” or abstained on all of them.

One of them, from the UN special political and decolonization committee – which deals with a variety of subjects, including the Palestinian refugee issue, human rights and peacekeeping – contained a resolution with numerous criticisms of Israel and no mention of Palestinian obligations in the peace process.

The special committee had submitted a report from another subcommittee that was charged with investigating “Israeli practices affecting the human rights of the Palestinian people and other Arabs of the occupied territories.”

Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird said that this resolution was “one-sided, unbalanced and does not address the complexities of the issues, nor seeks to address the true actions and responsibilities of all parties.”

He added that Canada remained “frustrated” with the UN’s process on Middle East peace.

Canada, Baird said, believes Israel and the Palestinians must resolve all “final status” peace issues in bilateral negotiations, not at the UN.

“Canada has long been concerned by the sheer number of UN resolutions critical solely of Israel. No other conflict area in the world draws even a fraction of the time and energy of member states.

Baird said the committee’s resolution package on Israel was prejudiced and lacked “references to terrorist activities carried out by Hamas, Palestinian Islamic Jihad and others against Israel and are, thus, ultimately unhelpful to the cause of a lasting, negotiated peace.”

As a result, Canada voted “no” or abstained from voting last week on nine of what it decided were biased, anti-Israel resolutions, including the special committee’s report.

The other resolutions, along with Canada’s vote, were: Assistance to Palestine refugees (abstained);  Operations of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (no); Persons displaced as a result of June 1967 and subsequent hostilities (no); Palestine refugees’ properties and their revenues (no); Applicability of the Geneva Convention relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War, of 12 August 1949, to the occupied Palestinian territory, including east Jerusalem, and the other occupied Arab territories (no); Israeli settlements in the occupied Palestinian territory, including east Jerusalem, and the occupied Syrian Golan (no); Israeli practices affecting the human rights of the Palestinians in the occupied Palestinian territory, including east Jerusalem (no); The occupied Syrian Golan (abstained).

The Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs (CIJA) praised the Canadian stance.

In a statement, CIJA CEO Shimon Fogel welcomed Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s and Baird’s “principled” support of Israel at the world body.

“The cumulative volume of anti-Israel vitriol these resolutions contain hinders credible UN involvement in moving the conflict toward a peaceful resolution,” Fogel said.

“Canadians believe the UN should take a constructive approach to the conflict and focus on peace and reconciliation, not blame and vilification. We can all be proud that these are the values Canada upheld at the UN today.”

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