Trudeau offers empty words on Israel’s annexation plans

Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau

Nora Barrows-Friedman

The Electronic Intifada  /  June 4, 2020

Human rights advocates are admonishing the Canadian prime minister’s tepid response to Israel’s plan for West Bank annexation, calling it “frankly too little, too late.”

On Tuesday, during his daily press briefing, Justin Trudeau stated that Canada had “deep concerns and disagreement” with the annexation plans, but did not challenge Israel’s plans directly or threaten to withhold funds.

The Trudeau government has instead reserved those types of threats for the International Criminal Court. The twist is that Canada has threatened to punish the ICC for investigating Israel’s crimes.

Independent Jewish Voices Canada said that Trudeau’s statement on Israel’s illegal annexation plan “was the first time he’s commented publicly on the matter.”

The group reiterated its demands to impose sanctions against Israel’s annexation plans which “would be consistent with other foreign policy positions taken in recent months by the Canadian government.”

Canada’s foreign minister, for example, marked the sixth anniversary of Russia’s annexation of Crimea by issuing a strong condemnation.

Along with IJV Canada, the Canadian Labour Congress – which represents more than three million workers – urged the Trudeau administration to “consider a forceful response” to Israel’s plans, including the imposition of sanctions.

More than 50 former Canadian diplomats also demanded that Trudeau respect international legal protocols and condemn Israel’s annexation plans.

Canada’s Green Party has condemned the annexation plans.

And the left-leaning New Democratic Party has criticized the efforts by Trudeau’s Liberal Party to shield Israel from accountability.

Researcher Michael Bueckert said that the NDP has merely offered words when action is needed, especially when it comes to the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement for Palestinian rights.

The NDP’s leader, Jagmeet Singhrecently stated that he was opposed to the BDS call. That appeared to be a U-turn: Singh had previously said he was open to supporting sanctions against Israel.

Calls to refuse Canada’s bid for UN seat

Meanwhile, more than 100 international human rights and faith-based organizations have joined hundreds of scholars, journalists, artists and activists calling on the United Nations to refuse Canada’s years-long bid for a seat on the body’s Security Council.

“Canada has repeatedly sided with Israel,” the letter states, adding that Trudeau’s government has “justified Israel’s killing” of protesters with the Great March of Return in Gaza and “has sought to deter the International Criminal Court from investigating Israeli war crimes.”

The letter notes that Chrystia Freeland, the Canadian foreign minister, announced that if Canada wins a seat on the council, it would be an “asset to Israel” and would “strengthen” Canada’s collaboration with Israel.

“When deciding who represents the international community on the UN’s highest decision-making body, we urge you to consider the UN-established rights of the long-suffering Palestinians,” the letter states, urging UN ambassadors to cast their 17 June votes for Ireland and Norway instead.

Prominent signatories include Noam Chomsky, Pink Floyd’s Roger Waters, former UN special rapporteur Richard Falk, South African law professor John Dugard and filmmaker Ken Loach.

Another open letter urging UN ambassadors to reject Canada’s bid has garnered thousands of signatures.

Last month, 72 percent of respondents said Canada does not deserve a seat, according to an online poll by the Toronto Star.

“We want to remind UN ambassadors that Canada has consistently isolated itself against world opinion when it comes to the long-suffering Palestinians,” stated Karen Rodman of Just Peace Advocates, an activist group in Canada.

“We hope that all member states and their UN ambassadors will be thinking about Palestine as they cast their votes later in the month,” Rodman added.

Nora Barrows-Friedman is a staff writer and associate editor at The Electronic Intifada, and is the author of In Our Power: US Students Organize for Justice in Palestine (Just World Books, 2014).