Canada should vote in favour of Palestine two state solution at UN

Canada should vote in favour of Palestine two state solution at UN
Posted on November 24, 2015 | Dianne Varga | Written on November 24, 2015
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Letter type:
Personal

From: Dianne Varga
Sent: November 24, 2015
To: 'stephane.dion@parl.gc.ca'
Cc: 'justin.trudeau@parl.gc.ca'

Subject: Vote at UN on Palestine
Importance: High

Dear Foreign Affairs Minister Stephane Dion,

I recall how a majority of countries at the United Nations voted in 2012 to recognize Palestinian statehood. Canada was one of only nine outliers when Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird voted against the resolution. Speaking to an almost empty meeting hall in New York, he insisted Palestine’s appeal for recognition was a unilateral action that abandoned the principle of the two parties “collaboratively” seeking peace through direct negotiations.

He later said that bullying was prevalent in the conduct of international diplomacy and that bullying was always wrong, implying that Canada would not be bullied to go along with the 138 nations that voted to upgrade Palestine’s status to non-member observer state. Ironically, Baird then threatened retaliatory measures against the Palestinians for having brought the statehood issue onto the world stage, and the day after speaking at the UN, secured his reputation as a bully by recalling senior diplomats from Israel and the West Bank for a full review of the bilateral relationship.

What we have learned since is that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has no intention whatsoever of collaborating with Palestine to achieve peace. That is, in March 2015, he told an Israeli news site (and he repeated the same two months later) that the prospect of a Palestinian state is nil so long as he is in office. Impugning the validity of numerous prior UN resolutions, he also said that it was necessary to beat back international pressure to share Jerusalem with Palestinians and return Israel to its pre-1967 borders.

At the time, chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat laconically observed that Netanyahu’s stance was nothing new and that across time he had done everything possible to bury the two-state solution.

The reason I write to you is that today, at a meeting of the UN’s Third Committee (Social, Humanitarian and Cultural), a vote was taken to reaffirm Palestine’s right to self-determination, including the right to an independent state. The resolution also sought to have all nations continue to support and assist the Palestinian people in the early realization of their right to self-determination.

Prior to the vote, the representative from Israel pretended that a lasting peace could indeed be forged while Netanyahu is in power as he launched into the same, tired justification for voting against the resolution that had been articulated by Israel, the US, and Canada in 2012: peace and the path towards it was undermined by Palestine’s unilateral action. Little different from 2012, the vast majority of nations voted in favour of the resolution. Only Israel, the always biased United States, a few Pacific island nations that host US military bases for their economic survival, and Canada voted against it.

Just as the majority of the world’s nations evidently believe that the pursuit of justice in the Middle East requires a fair hand rather than pro-Israel bias and statehood for Palestine regardless of how Netanyahu feels about it, so it seems do the majority of Canadians. As reported by Althia Raj at the Huffington Post, of the 365 Canadians (including myself) who wrote to Harper between Nov. 29 and Dec. 31, 2012, after the historic UN vote, 82 per cent were adamantly opposed to the Conservative government’s position. Said Raj, we used words such as “horrified,” “disgusted,” “saddened,” “ashamed” and “disappointed” to express our feelings, according to documents she obtained under the Access to Information Act.

This brings me to your party’s pledge to bring REAL CHANGE to government. Your election platform recognized that under Stephen Harper, Canada’s influence and presence on the world stage had steadily diminished. It recognized that instead of working with other countries constructively at the United Nations, the Conservatives had turned their backs on the UN and other multilateral institutions. In the Prime Minister’s mandate letter to you, he made the revitalization of Canadian diplomacy and leadership on key international issues and in multilateral institutions a top priority. He also told you that the government was committed to being open, honest and accountable to Canadians.

Given the interest of the world in supporting Palestine’s aspiration of self-determination and given the feelings of Canadians on the matter, you would think your government would have behaved differently in relation to today’s vote. Yet, there was absolutely NO DIFFERENCE in Canada’s diplomatic output. John Baird may as well have been at the helm.

Is this disgusting and embarrassing pro-Israel bias what Canadians should expect from your government throughout its term, or will REAL CHANGE be coming?

I look forward to your response.

Dianne Varga
Kelowna, BC

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