30 November 2012

Canada's shameful vote against Palestinian statehood

Yesterday marked a shameful moment in the history of this country's foreign policy. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas asked the UN General Assembly to recognize Palestine as an observer state ... and Canada voted no.

Our vote puts the lie to our claim that we believe in a two-state solution, or at least that we believe in a just two-state solution. If we do, how can we possibly object to the Palestinians making a significant step in that direction by a peaceful process supported by a solid majority of the world's nations?

I suspect the answer to that question is that this approach undermines the power of Israel to completely dominate the process and thus the resolution of the issue. Given the situation on the ground, it has all the leverage, the Palestinians virtually none. It has the most powerful military in the region, equipped with nuclear weapons and backed unconditionally by the most powerful nation in the world; and it controls all of the territory in question in one way or another and steals more of it every day while further segregating the Palestinians.

Coercing the Palestinians into negotiations by rejecting any other approach means condemning them into accepting whatever crumbs the Israelis condescend to offer. And this may be exactly what Israel and the United States, and apparently Canada, have in mind.

Ultimately, negotiations will of course be necessary. However, currently they are going nowhere, and if the Palestinians can gain more leverage by other means, this can only lead to fairer negotiations in the long run. They will, furthermore, receive a fairer hearing in the UN where Third World countries, who have a view of colonization from the perspective of native peoples, will have more sympathy, even empathy, for the Palestinians than they can expect from the West, still burdened by imperial thinking.

The Jews have their state. It is churlish of us to deny the Palestinians any legal, peaceful means to achieving theirs. Our vote yesterday indicated rather than a just settlement between two equal states, we seek a Palestine defined by and solely in the interests of Israel. This is a policy as dangerous as it is hypocritical.


  1. I think Israel's legitimacy and Canada's integrity was demonstrated today when Israel retaliated against the Palestinian people by approving 3,000 new settler homes in the West Bank. The Palestinians claim this will effectively sever the West Bank forever ending their prospects of a contiguous Palestinian homeland.

  2. Our government has gone on record as opposing unilateral actions in Palestine. If it does not condemn this highly provocative one by Israel, its hypocrisy will reach a new low. But I won't be surprised—see paragraphs three and four above.