Dec. 2, 2020
By DOGAN D. AKMAN
Successive Canadian governments, including the current one, never cease to refer to Israel as their strong ally and close friend.
Yet, on Nov. 19, Canada voted, for the second consecutive year, in favour of a United Nations resolution titled “The right of the Palestinian people to self-determination.”
The preamble of the resolution, as are all such anti-Israel UN measures, refers to all sorts of international instruments, conferences, and whatnot to assert “the need for respect for and preservation of the territorial unity, contiguity and integrity of all of the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem.” As well, it:
• “Reaffirms the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination, including the right to their independent State of Palestine; and
• “Urges all states in the region and the specialized agencies and organizations of the United Nations system to continue to support and assist the Palestinian people in the early realization of their right to self-determination.”
This is an absurd resolution.
First, no country, including Israel, has denied the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination.
Second, none of the emanations of the UN system need to support and assist the Palestinian people in the early realization of their right to self-determination, since Israel and the United States, besides proposing and signing the Oslo Accords as the step towards Palestinian self-determination, offered two peace treaties with very generous terms in 2000 and 2018.
Third, the Palestinians have, to date, rejected every single peace offer that would have enabled them to become an independent state.
Fourth, the Palestinians never stopped claiming their entitlement to the entire territory between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea.
Fifth, as a matter of fact and law, the Palestinians do not have legal title to any of the so-called “Palestinian territory,” including any part of Jerusalem, save for personal land owned by individual Palestinians.
Finally, the lands in question are and remain set aside for the Jewish people pursuant to Article 80(1), Chapter XII of the United Nations Charter.
This article recognizes the continuing validity of the “Mandate for Palestine” established by the League of Nations, which incorporated the terms of the Balfour Declaration of 1917. It goes beyond that to establish an internationally recognized right of the Jewish people – as the people indigenous to the lands covered by the Mandate – to establish their Jewish homeland which, in 1948, became the State of Israel.
As a matter of fact, to this very day, the Jewish people are entitled to settle on any part of this land.
Yet, the UN resolution Canada favours makes no mention of the inalienable legal rights of Israel and of the Jewish people to the lands in question.
Neither does it require – nay, demand – that the Palestinian people, in the early realization of their right to self-determination, cease to engage in terrorism against Israel and school their children to hate Jews and Israelis.
It does not call on Palestinians to take every confidence-building initiative towards negotiating a peace treaty with Israel in good faith, without making egregious claims that would lead negotiations nowhere.
Finally, it does not call for abiding by the terms of the Oslo Accords, and in particular, by the formal written assurances and undertakings given by former PLO leader Yasser Arafat to the late Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin in consideration of the accord, which have never been honored.
Why would Canada vote for this anti-Israel, mendacious and misleading resolution? Perhaps Canada’s explanation of its vote, known as an EOV, can shed some light.
“While we do not agree with some elements of the preamble, Canada will support this resolution because of its focus on these important, core issues of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict,” the EOV states.
The assertion that Canada disagrees with some elements of the preamble is an understatement if ever there was one. Surely the government has an obligation to identify these elements, and the same obligation to identify the substantive parts of the preamble with which it agrees.
One may wonder that if Canada does not agree with the entirety of the preamble, why bother voting for the resolution itself?
Finally, the government’s indifference to the misstatement of the law with respect to the alleged illegal occupation is shocking – particularly since Canada’s official position has always been that in the context of the two-state solution, and in accordance with section 80(1) of the UN Charter, the boundaries of each state have to be determined through negotiations.
Nevertheless, the EOV goes on to state: “The vote today is a reflection of our longstanding commitment to the right of self-determination for both Palestinians and Israelis.”
Yet, the resolution is silent on Israel’s self-determination.
And if the Palestinians have not secured self-determination, is that Israel’s fault? The alleged illegal occupation has nothing to do with it.
Adds the EOV: “Canada will support this resolution because of its focus on these important core issues of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.”
This is surely nonsense. The only issue addressed in this resolution is Palestinian self-determination, implicitly twinned with the pre-requisite of ending the so-called illegal occupation of “Palestinian Territory.”
The government then grandly states: “We will continue to oppose resolutions and initiatives which do not speak to the complexities of the issues.” The resolution it supported can hardly be characterized as speaking to the complexity of any issue.
Would Canada vote for this kind of resolution against any other of its strong allies and close friends? I think not.
Dogan D. Akman is an independent researcher and commentator. He holds a B.Sc. in sociology, an M.A. in sociology/criminology and an LL.B in law. He held academic appointments in sociology, criminology and social policy; served as a Judge of the Provincial Court of Newfoundland and Labrador, and was Crown Counsel in criminal prosecutions and in civil litigation at the Federal Department of Justice. His academic work is published in peer-reviewed professional journals while his opinion pieces and other writings are to be found in various publications and blogs.