Why I oppose Canada’s bid for the UN Security Council seat

(The following letter was recently sent to all UN Ambassadors from Canada Palestine Association chairperson, Hanna Kawas. The vote for non-permanent UNSC seats is set to happen June 17, 2020.)

June 12, 2020

Dear UN Ambassadors:

I am a Christian Palestinian refugee from Bethlehem who can’t return to my hometown because of my identity and because Israel refuses to implement the UNGA resolution regarding “Persons displaced as a result of the June 1967 and subsequent hostilities”. I am also the chairperson of the Canada Palestine Association. I am writing to urge you to NOT support Canada’s bid for a seat on the UN Security Council.

My late father sent a letter to the United Nations in 1948 following the dispossession of our people, appealing to the UN members at that time for justice, peace and equality. I am making one last effort in his name to speak to the conscience of this international body.

It came to my attention that Marc-André Blanchard, the Canadian UN Ambassador, sent you a letter dated June 10, 2020 stating that “Canada has long supported the creation of a Palestinian state…”. This is a blatant falsehood and reminds me of the treatment our native brothers and sisters have endured from the white settler colonialists.

On the personal level:

  • Canada, under the current Liberal government has voted for the past FIVE years against “Persons displaced as a result of the June 1967 and subsequent hostilities” resolution. Voting against this resolution is personal and affects me directly. I have with me the deeds for my grandfather’s property in Bethlehem and still I can NOT go and live in my ancestral home. The only real explanation for such a vote by Canada is that it supports Israel’s ethnic cleansing of the West Bank and subsequently supports the “Greater Israel Project”.
  • The Canadian government refused to enshrine Bethlehem, Palestine as my birthplace on my passport. I refused to accept such a denial of my identity, so I stayed stranded in Canada for nineteen years without the ability to travel. Finally, four years ago, the passport office offered to put Bethlehem, West Bank as my birthplace, which I accepted begrudgingly.

On the collective level:

  • If the Canadian government supports “the creation of a Palestinian state”, why did it vote last year AGAINST seven U.N. resolutions that affirm the “two-state” solution and call for ending the illegal occupation that has lasted for 53 years? And why does Canada vote against the other resolutions at the U.N. that uphold Palestinian human, national and refugee rights?
  • The response of the Canadian Foreign Minister François-Philippe Champagne to U.S. President Trump’s “deal of the century”, that gave the green light to Israel to annex the West Bank was: “Canada recognizes the urgent need to renew efforts toward a negotiated solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and will carefully examine the details of the U.S. initiative for the Middle East peace process”; it seems to this moment he is still “examining” it.
  • Only after the Special Rapporteur for Human Rights in the Occupied Palestinian Territory wrote “Canada missing in action on Israel’s proposed annexation of the West Bank”, and after 58 former Canadian diplomats and politicians signed a “letter calling on Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his government to show stronger resistance to a proposed Israeli annexation”, only then did Canadian PM Trudeau pay lip-service to opposing the Israeli planed annexation.
  • On the International Criminal Court (ICC) Canada’s Foreign Ministry stated: “Canada’s longstanding position is that it does not recognize a Palestinian state … In the absence of a Palestinian state, it is Canada’s view that the Court does not have jurisdiction in this matter under international law”. Meanwhile, the Canadian UN Ambassador tells you in his letter that “Canada has long supported the creation of a Palestinian state…”
  • The Canadian government adopted the IHRA definition. Many people in Canada, of all faiths, oppose the IHRA definition because “7 of the 11 examples refer not just to Jewish people, but to the state of Israel, a deliberate rhetorical strategy to label criticism of Israel and of Zionism antisemitic.”
  • The Canada-Israel Free Trade Agreement (CIFTA) allows for the sale and false labelling of illegal settlement products in Canada. Even after the Federal Court of Canada ruled that “product of Israel” labels from wines made in West Bank settlements, in the occupied Palestinian territories, are “false, misleading and deceptive”, the Canadian government appealed this ruling. The Canadian government has refused to abide by the 2016 UN Security Council Resolution 2334, calling on member states to “distinguish, in their relevant dealings, between the territory of the State of Israel and the territories occupied in 1967.”
  • Canada gives tax deductible status to the Jewish National Fund JNF which supports settlements projects in the West Bank, including Canada Park that was built on the ruins of three Palestinian towns occupied in 1967.
  • Many Zionist organizations get tax deductible status from the Canadian government including the “Lone Soldier” organization that sends “soldiers” to fight with the Israeli military committing war crimes against the Palestinian people. It is worth noting that earlier this year the Canadian ambassador to Israel held an event “to show the appreciation and care felt by the embassy” for those mercenaries.
  • The Canadian government, under direct instruction of the Israeli lobby groups, put the major Palestinian resistance organizations struggling against Israeli occupation, on their “Terrorist List”. The previous Liberal government reaffirmed this list on Nov. 21 2018.
  • On November 2, 2018, then Foreign Minister and now Deputy PM Chrystia Freeland was quoted as follows during a visit to Israel:
    “She also mentioned Canada’s current bid for one of 10 non-permanent seats on the UN Security Council for 2021-2022, which she hoped would allow Canada to serve as an ‘asset for Israel and… strengthen our collaboration’.”

Canada has empowered Israel economically and militarily; in addition to the Free Trade agreement and the tax deduction for Zionist organizations, here are a few other examples:

  1. The exhaustive study entitled “Canadian Pension Plan (CPP) Investments in Corporations Supporting Israel’s Military, Police, Surveillance and Prison-Industrial Complex” Part 1 Part 2  
  2. Another study detailing “Canadian Military Exports to Israel: Aiding and Abetting War Crimes in Gaza (2008-2009)”
  3. Canadians can invest in Israeli Bonds tax free with their Registered Retirement Savings Plan (RRSP), Tax-Free Savings Account (TFSA) and Registered Educational Savings Plan(RESP), among other plans.

Finally, Article 1 of the Fourth Geneva Convention states: “The High Contracting Parties undertake to respect and to ensure respect for the present Convention in all circumstances.” In addition to Canada not abiding by this article, it is directly empowering Israel’s violations of international and humanitarian law.

Please don’t reward Canada for supporting and enabling Israel’s ethnic cleansing, war crimes, apartheid and genocide. I call on you in the name of my father, who died without being able to return to live in his beloved homeland, to not support Canada’s bid for a UNSC seat.

Sincerely,

Hanna Kawas, Chairperson, Canada Palestine Association