Today is the international day for Human Rights (click here). How will you mark this day? Yes, you, as a global citizen, possibly, too, as a Canadian citizen. An individual who has Canadian citizenship. You have a voice, distinct from the Canadian government. How will you use your voice?
On 29 Nov. 2012, the federal government of Canada chose, in effect, not to support human rights when it voted against a resolution in the United Nations’ General Assembly for the promotion of Palestine to a non-member, “enhanced observer” status at the UN. Canadians for Justice and Peace in the Middle East (CJPME) describes that the Israeli government lobbied “…European governments, [and] the majority of these governments voted in favour, including heavyweights France, Norway and Spain, as well as Austria, Denmark, Finland, Greece, Iceland, Ireland, Luxembourg, Sweden, Portugal, and Switzerland. The resolution passed by a wide majority, with 138 of the UN’s 193 UN members voting in favour, 9 opposed (including Israel, the US, Canada) and 41 abstentions.” (see the full CJPME statement here)
On 13 April 2011, leading up to the most recent Canadian, federal election, I posted the following on my blog: “In voting against resolutions of the United Nations Human Rights Council condemning Israel’s violations of Palestinian human rights, Canada has also failed to live up to its obligations to uphold respect for international human rights and humanitarian law.” (Federal Election Kit, 2011, The United Church of Canada, p. 20)
After the UN vote on 29 Nov. 2012, the Israeli government declared it would build 3,000 new housing units in occupied East Jerusalem and the occupied West Bank (click here). As reported in Haaretz on 30 Nov. 2012 by Barak Ravid (here), “… According to the [senior diplomatic] source, Israel also plans to advance long-frozen plans for the E1 area, which covers an area that links the city of Jerusalem with the settlement of Ma’aleh Adumim. If built, the controversial plan would prevent territorial contiguity between the northern and southern West Bank, making it difficult for a future Palestinian state to function. In the beginning of his term, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu gave the Obama administration a commitment that Israel would not build in the area. Both of his predecessors, Ariel Sharon and Ehud Olmert, also promised the U.S. administration that Israel would not build in E1.” For a description of the significance of the E1 area, click here.
On 13 April 2011, I also wrote the following: “Israel occupied East Jerusalem along with the West Bank in 1967. Occupation is regarded internationally as a temporary situation. Permanent changes in occupied territory are not allowed except for military necessity or to benefit the local population (Article 43, Hague Regulations). Destruction of property is not allowed (Article 53, Fourth Geneva Convention). Confiscation of property (Article 46, Hague Regulations) is not allowed. The forced displacement and inhumane treatment (e.g., denying essentials like water) of the local population is…not allowed.
However, Israel began its self-declared, illegal annexation in 1967. Using force, it expanded the municipal boundaries of East Jerusalem by annexing 28% of West Bank. The Israeli government has been moving its citizens into occupied East Jerusalem. This is population transfer and is a war crime [Article 49(6), Fourth Geneva Convention]. The Israeli government’s construction of the Separation Barrier (Wall) to the east of the internationally recognized Green Line (i.e., the 1949 Armistice line following the declaration of the state of Israel) is also illegal (International Court of Justice, 2004; click here, p. 3). Finally, house and infrastructure demolitions are a war crime because they are a grave breach of the Geneva Conventions (click here and here).” (see my full posting here)
As reported today by Vicky Tobianah in Haaretz, ““This [Canadian] government has essentially walked away from the UN,” says [Alistair] Edgar [a political science professor at Wilfred Laurier University in Ontario, Canada and executive director of the Academic Council on the United Nations System]. “We have withdrawn from UN peacekeeping, turned down requests to engage in new peacekeeping operations, we are cutting our funding to overseas development and narrowing the number of countries we give money to.”” (click here)
With each passing day, the current Canadian government is revealing its stance. What will your stance be?
Check out these opportunities for action:
CJPME’s action alert (here)
US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation – Marking Human Rights Day (here)
Commentary from Ada Glustein from Building Bridges Vancouver, a non-partisan, non-sectarian organization which aims to provide a forum for dialogue and information concerning the long-standing conflict in Israel-Palestine (here)
Media release, Independent Jewish Voices Canada (click here)
Media release, Amnesty International (click here)
Commentary from Hanan Ashrawi – on the side of international law (here)