Trudeau government votes against UN anti-Israel resolutions

Justin Trudeau, Stephen Harper at Sept. 28 Munk Debate on Canada’s Foreign Policy
Justin Trudeau, Stephen Harper at Sept. 28 Munk Debate on Canada’s Foreign Policy

In the first test of its support for Israel in international forums, the new Liberal government of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has voted against a raft of Arab-sponsored United Nations resolutions targeting the Jewish state.

The anti-Israel resolutions are non-binding and are introduced around this time every year.

Most have been or will be adopted first by committees of the UN, then voted on at a plenary of the General Assembly.

Canada abstained or voted against all the measures in committee, standing with Israel, the United States and the tiny Pacific island nations of the Federated States of Micronesia, Marshall Islands, Nauru, and Palau.

Canada’s votes were unchanged from last year, continuing a more Israel-friendly shift at the UN that began with former Liberal prime minister Paul Martin and continued under former Conservative prime minister Stephen Harper.

On Nov. 24, the UN adopted six of the resolutions, drafted by the Palestinians and Syria. These skipped committees and went directly to a plenary of the General Assembly.

Canada voted against all of them.

They included calls to “promote the realization of the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people, including their right to self-determination, to support the achievement without delay of an end to the Israeli occupation that began in 1967 and of the two-state solution on the basis of the pre-1967 border.”

Another expressed “grave concern about the extremely detrimental impact of Israeli settlement policies, decisions and activities in the occupied Palestinian territory, including east Jerusalem, including on the contiguity, integrity and viability of the territory.”

One resolution noted “that any actions taken by Israel, the occupying power, to impose its laws, jurisdiction and administration on the Holy City of Jerusalem are illegal and therefore null and void and have no validity whatsoever, and calls upon Israel to immediately cease all such illegal and unilateral measures.”

Another said Israel’s annexation of the Golan Heights (referred to as “the Syrian Golan”) is a “stumbling block in the way of achieving a just, comprehensive and lasting peace in the region.”

The Geneva-based watchdog group UN Watch “applauded” the Trudeau government for its votes and “for being on track to continue without change Canada’s policy of firmly opposing repetitive, disproportionate and one-sided resolutions… that are designed to delegitimize Israel, the Middle East’s only democracy.”

Canada’s voting record is “entirely unchanged from last year,” UN Watch pointed out. “This upholds the UN Charter’s principle of equal treatment of all nations, and prejudice to none.”

Still, Hillel Neuer, UN Watch executive director, lashed out at the passage of the half-dozen anti-Israel resolutions.

“Surreal barely captures the scene whereby the world is under assault by terrorists killing in the name of Islam and martyrhood — as Palestinians are doing while stabbing Israeli Jews — and the UN’s response is to reflexively condemn Israel in six separate resolutions, all of which are one-sided,” Neuer wrote on the organization’s website.

On the resolution that condemned Israel for retaining the Golan Heights and demanding its return to Syria, Neuer said: “It’s astonishing. At a time when the Syrian regime is massacring its own people, how can the UN call for more people to be subject to [President Bashar] Assad’s rule? The timing of [the] text is morally galling and logically absurd.”

The “farce” at the world body, he added, “underscores a simple fact: the UN’s automatic majority has no interest in truly helping Palestinians, nor in protecting anyone’s human rights. The goal of these ritual, one-sided condemnations remains the scapegoating of Israel.”

In recent days, UN committees passed 13 other resolutions, all targeting Israel. Canada abstained on two and voted no on 11. A 20th resolution, “Assistance to the Palestinian people,” will be considered later in December.

All the remaining resolutions are expected to be passed by the General Assembly in the next two weeks, Neuer told The CJN.

Canada’s votes “speak to Prime Minister Trudeau’s commitment that he’s reiterated time and again that his government will continue the multi-partisan support for Israel that characterized the previous government,” said Noah Shack, director of public policy at the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs.

One-sided, anti-Israel resolutions “not only denigrate Israel but the UN itself,” Shack added. Ottawa’s stance this time “is bigger than just a symbolic show of support from Canada. This is a statement of support for the UN and for fairness for Israel.”

Rookie MPs Anthony Housefather (Mount Royal) and Michael Levitt (York Centre), two of six Jews elected to Parliament as part of the Liberal win Oct. 19, praised their government’s move.

“We are pleased to recognize that the government of Canada led by Prime Minister Trudeau has demonstrated its continued support for Israel’s security, democracy, and stability by maintaining our country’s UN voting record on Israel,” they said in a statement Nov. 26.

“We will persist in opposing initiatives that vilify or single out Israel, including the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement,” they added.

“This round of voting underscores our firm commitment to support our ally Israel… We call upon the United Nations to stop this annual attempt to vilify and demonize Israel, and we hope this year will be the last year we need to vote on these resolutions.”