Canada votes with Israel on five UN resolutions

Flags fly at the United Nations headquarters in New York. DAMZOW/WIKIMEDIA COMMONS PHOTO

Canada has voted with Israel on five pro-Palestinian resolutions at the United Nations, with Ottawa’s stance unchanged from previous years.

Canada’s votes on Dec. 3 came on the heels of an abrupt and unexpected shift in its position at the UN on one resolution last month, which shocked many Jewish-Canadians.

Changing course from previous years, on Nov. 19, Canada voted for a measure that referred to “occupied Palestinian territory” – east Jerusalem and its Jewish holy sites included – and which said that Israel’s security barrier “severely impedes the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination.” Critics also said the measure put the onus of peace in the region solely on Israel.

Canada’s vote prompted Israel’s Embassy in Ottawa to lodge a formal protest. Others expressed anger and disappointment that Canada’s stance changed dramatically – from a No to a Yes, rather than abstaining – and may have signalled a disturbing departure from this country’s traditional support for Israel at the UN.

Some observers, including Hillel Neuer, the executive director of UN Watch, charged that Canada had made a Faustian bargain by trading its support for Israel to curry favour in its quest for a seat on the UN Security Council.

But on the later resolutions – part of an annual spate of 20 measures that target Israel – Canada voted No. All the resolutions are non-binding and passed by healthy margins.

Canada’s votes mirrored those of Israel, the United States and Australia.

In a surprising move, 13 countries abruptly changed their voting pattern in Israel’s favour on one of the resolutions, titled “Division for Palestinian Rights of the Secretariat,” voting No, rather than abstaining, as they’ve done in the past.

“I am pleased that this significant group of countries has decided to voice a clear moral stance against discrimination toward Israel at the UN,” Israeli Foreign Minister Israel Katz said in a statement. “This represents an important step in the long struggle against the prejudiced bias toward Israel at the United Nations. Particularly noticeable is the shift in the stance of several member states of the European Union and I trust that the remaining EU members will adopt this position soon.”

Katz also thanked the United States, Canada, Australia and the other countries that voted against the resolution, the Times of Israel reported.

As in previous years, Canada voted against the resolution titled “the Syrian Golan,” which condemns “the illegality of the Israeli settlement construction and other activities in the occupied Syrian Golan since 1967,” and demands that Israel withdraw from the area.

Canada’s No vote also went unchanged on the resolution titled “Peaceful settlement of the question of Palestine,” which refers to “occupied Palestinian territory” and Israel’s “unilateral measures aimed at altering the demographic composition, character and status of the city of Jerusalem.”

Canada voted against the measure called “Division for Palestinian Rights of the Secretariat,” which also refers to “Occupied Palestinian territory, including east Jerusalem.”

The same wording appears in the resolution titled “Special information programme on the question of Palestine.” On that, Canada voted No.

The resolution, “Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People,” which includes the term “Nakbah,” an Arabic word meaning “catastrophe” or “disaster” that’s used to describe the creation of Israel in 1948, was also voted against by Canada.

On Nov. 15, the UN General Assembly’s fourth committee adopted eight other resolutions singling out Israel. Canada voted against six of them and abstained on two.

The remaining resolutions are expected to be introduced over the coming days.

In a speech to UN Watch’s inaugural New York gala dinner on Dec. 5, former U.S. ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley condemned Canada for voting in favour of the earlier anti-Israel resolution, claiming that Ottawa made “a deal with the devil.”

Haley said Canada is “trading its integrity for a seat on the (UN) Security Council.”

She said Canada’s decision to change diplomatic course and support the resolution in a bid to secure a seat on the Security Council was an example of “cultural corruption.”