Rank-and-file members of the Conservative party have overwhelmingly endorsed their leader’s desire to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, and voted to move Canada’s embassy in Israel to Jerusalem, if they form the next government.
Meeting Aug. 23-25 in Halifax, party members approved a resolution recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and advocating the move of Canada’s embassy from its current location in Tel Aviv.
Such a case would mirror the move of the United States’ embassy to Jerusalem earlier this year.
Submitted by the riding executives of Vancouver Centre and Notre-Dame-de-Grâce–Westmount in Quebec, the resolution said: “The Conservative Party of Canada recognizes Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. Along with its ancient history as the seat of government, Jerusalem is also now where Israel’s parliament, Supreme Court and official residence of its president (are located).”
In a workshop, the measure was approved by around 96 per cent of votes cast, and it passed overwhelmingly by delegates at the plenary, according to Stacey Granovsky, a Toronto political activist who attended the convention.
“The energy in the room for the vote was very positive and exciting,” she told The CJN. “It was a real treat to be there in person.”
Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer signaled his desire to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel not long after he was elected in May 2017.
In February, the party posted a pledge on its website designed to gather signatures from members of the public.
“Canada’s Conservatives led by Andrew Scheer will recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital when we form government in 2019,” the pledge said, describing the party as “a strong voice for Israel and the Canadian Jewish community.”
But it made no mention of moving the embassy.
The pledge said that Canada’s Conservatives “recognize the obvious fact that Israel, like every other sovereign nation, has a right to determine where its capital is located.”
In response to the move by the United States and rumblings from the Conservatives, the governing Liberals reiterated late last year that Canada would not recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, or move the embassy.
The Canadian government officially believes that the status of Jerusalem “can be resolved only as part of a general settlement of the Palestinian-Israeli dispute. Canada does not recognize Israel’s unilateral annexation of east Jerusalem,” according to a government website. Canada, it adds, “does not recognize permanent Israeli control over territories occupied in 1967.” The policy has not changed in decades.
Jewish groups welcomed the Conservative policy development.
“Acknowledging the centrality of Jerusalem for Israel and the Jewish people should not be subject to partisan differences,” noted the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs. “We have always maintained that Canada, and all political parties, should formally recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. We, therefore, welcome the adoption of the Jerusalem resolution by the Conservative Party of Canada.”
Avi Benlolo, head of the Friends of Simon Wiesenthal Centre, called it “an excellent policy move.”
B’nai Brith Canada noted that “for millennia and for the last 70 years of the modern State (of Israel), the indigenous Jewish people have revered Jerusalem as their religious, cultural, spiritual and sovereign capital. Now, Conservative Canadians have shown their foresight by acknowledging this fact as well.”