May/June 1999


The Canadian Jewish News, February 18, 1999

Last week, during an "emergency special session" of the United Nations General Assembly (GA), Canada voted to support a resolution calling for the signatories to the Fourth Geneva Convention to meet in Switzerland to examine Israel's settlements policy and its treatment of the Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza. The special session was convened at the behest of Yasser Arafat and the PNC. The final vote was 115 in favor; two opposed (Israel and the United States); five abstentions; and 36 absent.

The convention was enshrined in 1949 as a result of the racist and genocidal policies of the Nazis. It was an addition to the original Geneva Conventions of 1864, which were the first international effort to codify rules for the humane treatment of civilians and military personnel in times of war.

Set aside the question of whether the Geneva Convention protocols even apply to the situation in the West Bank and Gaza. Set aside, too, the fact that more than 95 percent of the Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza live under Palestinian and not Israeli rule. The PNC sponsored resolution was a transparent attempt to demonize Israel, to try, once again, to cast it as a lawless pariah within the community of law-abiding states. It was a transparent attempt by the Palestinians to circumvent the Oslo process in resolving its disputes with Israel. It was also, therefore, a flagrant, egregious affront to the letter and the spirit of Oslo.

Ambassador Michel Duval attempted to soften the sting into Israel's jugular of Canada's outrageous vote by expressing "regret" at the GA's resort to the emergency session vehicle and to the inclusion of language that was "complicated" and that "will not benefit the peace process." But his regret was nothing more than false remorse, serving only to prove Canada's position to be foolish, inconsistent, hypocritical and illogical, all at the same time.

That Canada was complicit in the attempt to demonize Israel and in the wholesale disregard for and violation of the Oslo accords, is breathtaking. To have supported a patently partisan, political ploy aimed so obviously and cynically at harming Israel and that totally flouts basic Canadian norms of fairness, truth and balance, is a disgrace to the values that we hold so precious.

We condemn the government for its shameful complicity.

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