(July 8) - Lately, Canada's Middle East policy has been the subject of considerable commentary. I believe the pointed nature of some recent criticism, including charges that Canada's Middle East policy is anti-Israel, is unfortunate, untrue, and harmful. Canada's Middle East role has always received strong support from the Canadian public and has been endorsed by successive governments since the 1940s.
Obviously Mr. Manley's could hardly be expected to criticize Canada's role or record, or his own. Condemning terrorism and violence (even Mr. Arafat does) is hardly a courageous stance when not accompanied by clearly identifying the terrorists, even when they are known to all. We strongly urge you to review the following previously posted articles;
- Canada's Policy on Israel is Shameful
- Manley's Meddling
- Funding the PA ?
- Mr. Day Speaks the Truth
- Stirring Anti-Semitism
And please visit Our UN & Israel section which contains numerous articles on this subject, those with specific Canadian interest are indicated with a Canadian flag
Arafat addresses reporters in Gaza
as Mr. Manley looks on. (AP)
Terrorism and violence, which I have repeatedly condemned, bring strong, understandable reactions. But as difficult as it is for all of us to witness the senseless deaths, especially of children, we must find the resolve to look beyond the immediate crisis and focus on what we can do to achieve a just and durable peace.
As I found while in the Middle East, Canada's approach to regional issues is respected by Israelis and Arabs alike. This has long enabled Canada to play a disproportionately important role, both as a peacemaker and peacekeeper. In Gaza, I was especially moved during a visit to the graves of 23 Canadian peacekeepers.
Strong support for Israel, especially its right to live at peace with its neighbors within secure boundaries, has been at the core of Canada's Middle East policy since 1947, when Lester Pearson helped draft United Nations General Assembly Resolution 181, the international legal foundation for the State of Israel.
Within the UN system this support has been exemplified by Canada's staunch opposition to efforts to marginalize Israel. For example, Canada was a leader in resisting General Assembly Resolution 3379 - the infamous Zionism Equals Racism Resolution - and played a major role in having that resolution rescinded.
Just as Canada's support for Israel is deeply rooted in fundamental moral values widely shared by Canadians, so Canada's approach to Middle East issues has been defined by those same values. This has led to a policy focused on equity, justice, and the well-being of all the peoples of the region, including refugees.
Canada has strongly backed, therefore, all efforts to forge lasting peace between Israel and its Arab neighbors. For example, while in the Middle East, I was able to throw Canada's weight behind the Report of the Mitchell Commission, which is now accepted by the parties themselves as providing the best available blueprint for ending the recent violence and moving forward.
Decades of violence have made clear that differences can only be resolved through a just, negotiated settlement based on the principle of land for peace, as enshrined in Security Council Resolution 242.
Canada's votes in the UN on Middle East issues are not against one party or another, but rather reflect established principles of international law.
Countries such as Britain, the Netherlands, Australia, and Norway, which take a similar, principled approach to Middle East issues, have voting patterns like those of Canada on issues such as the status of Jerusalem, the applicability of the Fourth Geneva Convention to the Occupied Territories, the need for a just resolution of the refugee issue, and the inadmissibility of the acquisition of territory by force.
Canada's relationship with Middle East countries, of course, goes far beyond such matters as United Nations resolutions and the peace process.
With Israel, economic links, reinforced by instruments such as the Canada-Israel Free Trade Agreement, increasingly bring our citizens into closer contact. Cooperation between leading Canadian and Israeli technology firms is a daily reality. But the heart of the Canada-Israel relationship lies in those shared values and human ties that brought Canada to endorse the creation of the State of Israel in 1947. These include Canada's and Israel's deep respect for democracy, artistic, and cultural links, our ongoing judicial cooperation, and Israel's openness to the lessons to be learned from the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Those common values and human relationships are the surest guarantee that Canada's close friendship with Israel will continue to flourish.
Nor is Canada's relationship with Israel to the exclusion of our relations with Arab countries. Both the prime minister, in his visit last year, and I, during my visit last month, received an exceptionally warm welcome from our Arab partners. Canada's ties with countries such as Egypt and Jordan have become increasingly close in recent years. Trade and other forms of economic cooperation are growing significantly. The many Canadians of Arab descent make an invaluable contribution to the Canadian mosaic as well as to Canada's relations with their countries of origin.
Canada's ability to maintain close ties with Israel, the Palestinians, and our other Arab partners has been one of the keys to our effectiveness in the Middle East. Because all see us as a valued and helpful partner, our views on Middle East issues carry real weight. I strongly believe Canada must build on its success and continue its efforts to bring a just peace to the region. I am convinced this is what most Canadians want.
(National Post, June 22, 2001)
©2001 - Jerusalem Post