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Canadian government from neutrality to Zionist fascist supporter.

Canada's UN votes signal pro-Israel shift
Siding with U.S. 'will have implications for our reputation,' ex-diplomat says


Steven Edwards
Friday, November 17, 2006


UNITED NATIONS - Canada under the Conservatives demonstrated a marked shift in favour of Israel in votes at the United Nations yesterday, registering its third consecutive change on more than 20 Arab- and Muslim-sponsored resolutions that are annually critical of Israeli policy, but light on Arab responsibilities.
The switch from the way former Liberal governments voted is expected to continue when Canadian diplomats join those of other UN member states to consider 10 more of the annual resolutions next Tuesday.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper has said in successive speeches that his government would not endorse international resolutions on Arab-Israeli relations that it considers unbalanced.
Arab and Muslim states use their developing world support to produce "automatic majorities" that slot the resolutions into the international record, then cite them to argue they have global support for their causes.
On many of the resolutions, Israel has typically received support only from the United States, a few U.S.-dependent Pacific island states, and frequently Australia -- but now Canada is breaking from its traditional support for the Europeans on most of the issues.
"If this is a shift, and if the resolutions are largely unchanged from previous years, then it will have implications for our reputation around the world, and echoes in Canada as well," warned Paul Heinbecker, a former Canadian ambassador to the UN under the Liberals, who is now an international governance expert with two Waterloo, Ont., think-tanks.
"Canada is known for taking a fair-minded and principled approach to these questions, and when I was ambassador, Canada judged every resolution on its merits, taking into account the central issue they are trying to address, and the question of fairness."
But pro-Israel and Jewish groups in Canada have for years lobbied that the resolutions are biased because they demand so much of Israel, but little from the Arab side in the search for Middle East peace -- and the current government appears to agree, prompting praise from Canada's Jewish community.
"We're very pleased Canada is staying the course and is now guided by a (new) set of principles," said Sara Freedman, a senior official with the Canada-Israel Committee. "Doing so is putting the onus on the UN to be fair and equitable as they deal with the Middle East situation."
The Jewish human rights activist group B'nai Brith Canada expressed similar satisfaction.
"It's anti-Israel time at the UN once again and Canada has taken up the challenge," said Frank Dimant, the group's executive vice-president. "The changes to Canada's vote on ... three resolutions so far demonstrates that the government will not be bound by traditional anti-Israel voting patterns, but will instead continue the principled course it has charted."
Officials with the National Council on Canada-Arab Relations did not return calls for comment.
The resolution before the UN yesterday speaks of the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination -- and saw Canada abstain, whereas Canada endorsed the resolution last year under the Liberals.
"Canada reiterates its strongest possible support for the Palestinian people and their right to self-determination as part of a negotiated, two-state settlement ... however, this resolution does not adequately address the responsibilities of both parties to the conflict to demonstrate efforts toward establishing a peaceful settlement," Alan Bowman, a senior official with the Canadian mission to the UN, told delegates in explanation of Canada's shift.
Of the two earlier resolutions in which Canada changed its vote, one spoke of the risk of nuclear proliferation in the Middle East, and the other called on Israel not to exploit natural resources in territory the draft designates "occupied Arab lands."
Canada abstained on both after voting in favour last year. The nuclear proliferation resolution says Israel, which is widely presumed to possess nuclear weapons, should join the nuclear non-proliferation treaty -- a move that would involve Israel's giving up the bomb. But Canada said the resolution fails to also point out Iran is currently defying the UN over its nuclear program. Indeed, western powers believe Iran is trying to develop a nuclear bomb even though it has signed the non-proliferation treaty, which allows it to legally develop nuclear technology for electricity production.
On the natural resources resolution, Canada expressed concern it fails, in part, to additionally make references to Israel's security concerns.
All the resolutions are currently before UN committees, though all 192 UN member states sit on each one. The drafts enter the international record after the full General Assembly votes on the measures later this year. The process is usually a rubber stamp.
© The Ottawa Citizen 2006

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