By Leila Speisman
June 10, 1999
Toronto – Canada's position on Israel at the United Nations could have serious consequences for the Jewish state, according to Brian Morris, executive director of the Canada-Israel Committee.
Morris was speaking at Shaarei Shomayim Congregation at a program sponsored by the synagogue's brotherhood and by the Entertainment and Cultural Connection.
Until recently, Morris said, Canada has voted in favor of Israel, or at least abstained. That policy has changed, however.
"It is no secret," Morris said, "that [Foreign Minister] Lloyd Axworthy wants the Nobel Peace Prize. He tried with the anti-mining campaign; he tried to play broker during the war with Serbia. Now he thinks that the Middle East is the best bet."
This is reflected in the change in Canada's stance at the UN, he said.
It is important to realize that the UN "is a club with its own rules. The resolutions don't have to be fair – they just have to get majority support," he said.
The situation is a concern, Morris said, because the Arabs are trying several new tactics in their diplomatic war with Israel.
Morris said he is appalled at the decision to convene a meeting in July to discuss the possibility that Israel's leaders can be considered war criminals.
He was referring to a resolution passed by the UN in February and supported by Canada calling for a conference in July to discuss whether the fourth Geneva Convention, which prohibits any country that has waged war of aggression from forcibly occupying territory, applies to the territories occupied by Israel after the Six Day War.
"The Arabs have never been able to take Is to the International Court at The Hague, because those accusations don't hold up. The Arabs or Jordan started the wars, and the disputed areas have always been mainly Jewish. Only Jordan expelled populations; Israel never did."
The February emergency session of the UN was convened at the request of the Arab League, "something that wasn't done for Yugoslavia or Africa," Morris pointed out.
Those at the session resurrected Resolution 181, the original UN resolution of 1947, which partitioned Israel into two states, a resolution that the Arabs never accepted.
"Canada is being hypocritical," said Morris. "If you support a bilateral approach to the peace process, as Canada says it does, you can't allow the negotiations to be sideswiped by the Arabs going to the UN anytime they are not pleased."
Both the Oslo and the Wye agreements have dispute resolution mechanisms built in. The Arabs have never invoked them, Morris said.
The inherent danger of all this, he said, is that if a Palestinian state has already been created (through Resolution 181), then Israel is an occupying power, and the Arabs can take Israel to The Hague, and can pressure the UN to declare Israeli leaders to be war criminals.
"The harm to Israel and the Jews would be irreparable," Morris said. "The United States is vehemently opposed to it. We can't forgive Canada if it votes for that meeting."
In the question period, former Ontario cabinet minister David Rotenberg noted that the Palestinian Covenant itself says that Resolution 181 is null and void.
What must be remembered, Morris said, is that world sympathy is with the Palestinians. "The only thing that helps is taking politicians to Israel. They come back totally changed.
The United States, Morris added, still supports Israel. "For the first time, the American ambassador to Israel took a suite in Jerusalem, and is meeting Jewish groups there."