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Background for Discussion on Canada's Foreign Policy - 2002 PDF Print E-mail
Jun 30, 2002 at 12:00 AM
May/June 2002
Lessons from Palestine

The May/June 2002 Issue of Canadian Dimension contains an insightful discussion of Canadian policy on Palestine. The following quote is taken from the Editorial Lessons from Palestine:

"It [Canada] states it is in agreement with international law, treaties and UN resolutions, while it winks at Israeli defiance of these same laws, treaties and resolutions. Israel has enjoyed impunity longer than Pinochet.

Canada is now the chair of an international committee, the Working Group on Refugees, established during the Madrid conference (just prior to Oslo). It deals with a vital issue for the Palestinian people.

In April [2002] Canada barefacedly proclaimed itself the U.S. surrogate to protect Israel at the UN human-rights commission. Canada voted with Guatemala in casting the only two negative votes against empowering Mary Robinson to investigate human-rights violations in the occupied territories."

June 2, 2002
Letter from Svend Robinson to his supporters on his visit to the Middle East

I  am writing in response to your words of support following my visit to Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories last month. Messages I have received from across the country, and the many messages from my constituents in Burnaby-Douglas, have given me strength and renewed determination to continue speaking out for peace and justice, and in solidarity with both the Palestinian people and the many courageous Israelis who have condemned the brutal and dehumanising policies of the Sharon government...

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Thursday April 18, 2002
Canada - A shameful accomplice

A number of pro-Palestinian activists occupied the office of Member of Parliament Irwin Cotler in Montreal, Canada. This quote is from their statement issued that date. Statement by activists

We are a group of Montrealers who, spurred by the Israeli massacre in Jenin, have peacefully occupied Mont Royal MP Irwin Cotler's constituency office on Kent Avenue as of now. In the past few weeks, we participated in demonstrations protesting Israel's brutal measures against Palestinians, passed out petitions and donated to the victims of Israel's cruel invasion, hoping in the meanwhile that international intervention would finally erode the Israeli government's resolve to turn the lives of Palestinians into a nightmare. We watched on as the Jenin refugee camp was reduced to rubble over the heads of its inhabitants. We watched on as a callous army encircled what had become a tomb, refusing in contravention to all international norms and standards of decency to allow humanitarian and medical aid entry into the camp. We have witnessed our government, a signatory to the 4th Geneva Convention, join the ranks of these soldiers with its refusal to condemn Israel's actions in the United Nations Human Rights Commission meeting last Monday. Canada's continuing diplomatic and economic ties with Israel suggest tolerance of Israel's war crimes, which NDP leader Alexa MacDonough has aptly referred to as state terrorism. Our government proved that its pledge to uphold justice and human rights is a hollow oath. History will record Canada as a silent, shameless accomplice to the unspeakable torture endured by the dead and maimed of Jenin.

Israels occupation of Palestinian lands is illegal and brutal

For the past thirty-five years, Israel has subjected the Palestinians to a notoriously brutal occupation. This occupation contravenes UN Security Council Resolution 242, which calls for the immediate withdrawal from all of the West Bank and Gaza. The Canadian government never ceased backing Israel throughout this period. Its support remained strong in the face of degradation, humiliation and unforgivable oppression of the Palestinian people and the expropriation of the lands for illegal Israeli settlements. The mild rebuke occasionally issued by this government towards Israel makes a mockery of the depth of the Palestinian people's suffering and the gravity of Israel's war crimes.

International community must act now

April 16, 2002
Canada Votes Against Human Rights Investigation into Israel's Actions

Bill Graham, M.P. Minister of External Affairs Government of Canada

Dear Minister:

How is it that Canada voted against the April 15, 2002 UN Human Rights Commission Resolution condemning Israeli actions in the occupied West Bank and Gaza? What justification is there for doing this?

The Human Rights Commission Resolution states, in part, that the Commission "strongly condemns the war launched by the Israeli army against Palestinian towns and (refugee) camps, which has resulted so far in the death of hundreds of Palestinian civilians, including women and children." According to the Globe and Mail, Canada opposed the resolution using the justification that it contained no outright condemnation of terrorism or mention of human rights abuses of the Palestinians (AP and CP, April 15, 2002 - Online Edition).

Aside from how one views the actions of a people living under illegal military occupation, any government is responsible and accountable to the international community for the crimes against humanity that it commits, regardless of circumstance. There can be no justification for the crimes committed against the 15,000 residents of the refugee camp in Jenin, for example, where 30 feet high mounds of rubble and mass graves hold the bodies of hundreds of civilians killed by the Israeli occupying army, to say nothing about the devastation and terror visited upon the people of other towns and refugee camps throughout the West Bank and Gaza.

We in the Canada Palestine Support Network denounce Canada's decision to vote against the UN Human Rights Commission Resolution since we believe it tells the world that Canada condones the actions of the Israeli government and that makes us complicit in those actions.

Human rights abuses and illegal occupation go hand in hand. Real peace in the region will not come until countries like Canada do all that is necessary to effect an end to the Israeli occupation of the West Bank and Gaza. That means standing up and being counted with those who know a crime against humanity when they see it.

Yours truly,
Patricia Katagiri, on behalf of the Canada Palestine Support Network.

cc. Jean Chretien, Prime Minister

Wednesday, September 19th, 2001
Urgent Appeal for an International Protection Force

We the undersigned, Palestinian and Israeli intellectuals and activists, view with grave concern the unbearable and inhuman situation imposed on the Palestinian people in the West Bank and Gaza. Such a situation has been brought about by the repression, blockades, and daily humiliation exercised by the military occupation and by the daily harassment that settlers inflict on the Palestinian population. We cannot remain unmoved while the suffering of Palestinians and the violation of their human and political rights continues undeterred. The recent seizure of Palestinian institutions (including Orient House) in Jerusalem and environs can only exacerbate the situation and lead to more bloodshed and suffering of innocent people. We feel it is our duty to support the call for the immediate provision of an international force to protect the Palestinian people in its struggle for the exercise of its right to self-determination and freedom, and to put an end to the military occupation of its land.

We urge all those concerned, everywhere, to join us in voicing their strong opposition to the continued occupation of the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip, and to support our call for the provision of effective international protection for Palestinians from the aggression and repression of the Israeli occupation. Such an international force, we believe, would greatly facilitate the resumption of serious and meaningful negotiations between Palestinian and Israeli leaders and the settlement of the conflict on the basis of relevant United Nations resolutions and a two states solution.

* * * * *

Among the Israeli signatories are Shulamit Aloni, Uri Avnery, Meron Benvenisti, Yehuda Shenhav, Joseph Agassi and Adi Ofir?x3B; among the Palestinian signatories are Haider Abdel Shafi, Hanan Ashrawi, Edward W. Said, Rashid I.Khalidi, Elia Zureik, Camille Mansour and Khalil Hindi. The letter is igned by hundreds of academics, physicians, lawyers, writers, artists, and activists.

The initiative came from a group of Israeli-Palestinian academics and intellectuals coordinated by Jamil Hilal, Lev Grinberg, Ghassan Abdullah, Oren Yiftachel, Islah Jad, Baruch Kimmerling, Rema Hammami, Yoav Peled, Saleh Abdel-Jawad and Yehudit Harel. The group is especially concerned with the increasing wave of violence and the absence of protection for the Palestinians, exposed to the repression of the occupation that cause desperate Palestinian reactions like suicide bombs. The intention of an international force is to put an end to the vicious cycle of violence and the loss of human lives, that evidently the Mitchell report recommendations have failed to provide. This situation cannot be permitted to go on undeterred.

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Judge blaming Rachel Corrie for her own death highlights Israel’s impunity, family says
The Haifa District court ruled earlier today that the Israeli military is not responsible for killing American activist Rachel Corrie, and that Corrie was to blame for her own death.

Even when she saw the mount of earth moving towards her, she did not move away. The accident was caused by the deceased,” said Israeli Judge Oded Gershon, as he read out a summary of the 62-page ruling in front of a packed courthouse and with Rachel’s mother Cindy, father Craig and sister Sarah sitting in the front row.

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