Condemn Canada for facilitating Israeli state war crimes against the Palestinian people!

Toronto demonstration, February 1, 2020, stands with Palestinian people rejecting the “Deal of the Century.”

The Canadian state’s current support for Zionism is part of its manoeuvring for Canada to win one of  five non-permanent seats on the UN Security Council for a two-year term beginning in 2021. From this vantage point, Canada could better serve U.S. imperialist interests, which includes putting a human face on Zionist war crimes and terrorism against the Palestinian people, and U.S. aggression worldwide.

Canada’s voting record on the matter of Israel is shameful. It abstained on a General Assembly resolution in December 2017 demanding the U.S. rescind its decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. The resolution declared the U.S. recognition of Jerusalem “null and void.” The non-binding resolution was approved by 128 of the 172 nations present on the day of the vote. In fact, Canada regularly votes against or abstains on the 16 recurrent resolutions on Palestinian issues which go before the General Assembly every year, including resolutions on Palestinian self-determination, sovereignty over natural resources and the illegality of Israeli settlements.

Canada, along with other so-called western liberal democracies, continues to condone Israeli war crimes and terror against the Palestinian people. On February 14, Canada sent a formal letter to the International Criminal Court (ICC) at the Hague, opposing its decision to proceed to a formal trial on war crimes allegations against the state of Israel. The decision to send the letter was made by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau at the direct request of Israeli President Benjamin Netanyahu.

On December 20, 2019, the Chief Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) Fatou Bensouda announced that, after five years of investigation, the ICC is “satisfied that there is a reasonable basis to initiate an investigation into the situation in Palestine […] There is a reasonable basis to believe that war crimes have been or are being committed in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip.”

Following the ICC ruling, Israel began an organized campaign to block such an investigation. Canada has formally joined this campaign to cover up Israel’s war crimes. While the February 14 letter from Global Affairs Canada to the ICC has not been made public, in an email to Canadian Jewish News, a spokesperson for Global Affairs Canada, Guillaume Berube, wrote: “Canada’s long-standing position is that it does not recognize a Palestinian state […] In the absence of a Palestinian state, it is Canada’s view that the (ICC) does not have jurisdiction in this matter under international law.” 

Canada’s letter to the ICC follows on the heels of a personal letter sent from President Nethanyahu to Prime Minister Trudeau in December 2019 concerning the ICC decision, which reads in part:

“In light of our special relations and the steadfast friendship between our countries, I urge you to publicly condemn this erroneous decision, to acknowledge there is not a Palestinian state, that the court has no jurisdiction in this matter, which involves political issues to be determined by the parties, and to voice your deep concerns regarding its dangerous ramifications to the court and the region.”

It is noteworthy that ICC Chief Prosecutor Bensouda spent five years reviewing initial evidence before concluding there is evidence of war crimes and asking the ICC judges to decide whether the court has jurisdiction to proceed. The ICC examination of the “situation in Palestine” would look back only as far as June 13, 2014 and include allegations of war crimes during Israel’s summer 2014 Operation Protective Edge in the Gaza Strip. That particular bombardment caused the deaths of some 2,251 Palestinians in a matter of fifty days, the majority of them civilians, including 551 children. There were six Israeli civilian casualties.

The investigation may also include the Israeli military’s brutal repression of Palestinian protesters participating in the Great March of Return, which began in 2018 and, according to the ICC Prosecutor’s 2019 Report on the Situation in Palestine, “reportedly resulted in the killing of over 200 individuals, including over 40 children, and the wounding of thousands of others.” Bensouda also concluded “that in the context of Israel’s occupation of the West Bank, including East Jerusalem” there are reasonable grounds to believe “that members of the Israeli authorities have committed war crimes […] in relation, inter alia, to the transfer of Israeli civilians into the West Bank.”

When Chief Prosecutor Bensouda announced her intention to prosecute war crimes charges against Israel, Michael Lynk, the UN Special Rapporteur for human rights matters in the Palestinian territory occupied by Israel since 1967, underscored what he considered to be its significance for the rule of law. “International law must be the basis for seeking justice for the victims of war crimes in this interminable conflict, and the international community must resolutely support the laws and the institutions that it has created and nurtured.” He said, “Accountability has until now been largely missing in action throughout the 52-year-old occupation […] In a world that proclaims its devotion to human rights and a rules-based international order, it is vital that the international community defend the decision of the ICC Prosecutor to advance her investigation and to seek a favourable ruling from the Pre-Trial Chamber on the issue of territorial jurisdiction.”

The peace- and justice-loving Canadian people must condemn the decision of Canada to continue to condone Israeli war crimes against the Palestinian people. It is unacceptable that Canada has stood with the Zionist state of Israel for more than 70 years while it murders and commits acts of terror against the Palestinian people to extinguish them as a people. It will not pass! The crimes of the Israeli state against the heroic Palestinian people, with the open support of the Anglo-American imperialists, are carried out in broad daylight and Canada has once again opted for impunity for Israeli war crimes, arguing that the International Criminal Court has no jurisdiction. The Canadian people say: Not In Our Name!

(With files from UN.org, Globe and Mail, Palestine Chronicle, Canadian Jewish News, Jacobin.)

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