Almost 60 Canadian politicians including four former federal cabinet ministers signed on to a letter, urging the Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government to resist the planned Israel annexation of the West Bank, news reports said Friday.
If the lobbying succeeds, Canada would join others in the US, UK and Europe who are opposed to the annexation, claiming it would be illegal under international law.
“We are writing to you as retired Canadian diplomats, proud of Canada’s historical commitment to multilateral institutions and its reputation for supporting the rule of law,” states the letter, addressed to Trudeau.
“As you know, Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has announced publicly his intention to ‘annex’ in the coming weeks a significant amount of land that Canada and the international community recognize as occupied Palestinian Territory…” the letter states.
“Territorial conquest and annexation are notorious for contributing to fateful results: war, political instability, economic ruin, systemic discrimination and human suffering.”
It is not the first time Trudeau has raised the ire of Canadian politicians for what they see as the prime minister’s lukewarm stance against the annexation.
In late May, New Democrat Party Member of Parliament Jack Harris said it was imperative for Canada to join such countries as France and Ireland “who have made strong declarations” opposing annexation.
“Now that the incoming government of Israel has committed to a plan to annex lands in the occupied territories, Canada must speak out and condemn such action,” Harris said in a statement, May 13. “It would be a clear violation of international law and the Geneva Convention to which Canada is a party.”
The federal Green Party sent a letter to Trudeau in early May, urging him to oppose the annexation in the same manner Canada did when Russia annexed Crimea in 2014. The letter went further.
“The attempt by the Netanyahu government to take this action while the world is busy dealing with an unprecedented global public health crisis in reprehensible,” the letter said.
Global Affairs Canada spokesperson Adam Austen responded to a Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, Canada’s national newscaster, request for comment.
“Canada remains firmly committed to the goal of achieving a comprehensive, just and lasting peace in the Middle East,” Austen wrote in an email. “We have long maintained that peace can only be achieved through direct negotiations between the parties. Canada is very concerned that Israel moving forward with unilateral annexation would be damaging to peace negotiations and contrary to international law.”
Earlier this week during his daily press conference on COVID-19, Trudeau was asked about the issue and he responded by saying that the Canadian government backed the two-state solution – the independent state of Palestine and an independent state of Israel.
“I have highlighted both publicly and directly to Prime Minister Netanyahu and alternate Prime Minister Benny Gantz the importance of staying away from measures that are unilateral and our deep concerns and disagreement with their proposed policy of annexation,” Trudeau said. “We think that the path forward is a two-state solution reached… by dialogue between the two parties involved and anything that is unilateral action by either side is unhelpful in the cause of peace.”
While Ganz has expressed misgivings about the annexation, the coalition government has an agreement that allows Netanyahu to move forward with the annexation.
The annexation plan, which would see about 30% of the West Bank become part of Israel, has proven to cause mixed feelings in Israel.
Several Israel military generals have said that “unilateral annexation has the potential to ignite a serious conflagration…any partial annexation is likely to set in motion a chain reaction over which Israel will have little control.”
While former US politicians and foreign policy advisors have condemned the plan, the Trump administration likes it.
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