Ottawa argues legal absurdity to defend Israel

As it claims to promote the international rules-based order, the Trudeau government is seeking to block a World Court opinion on Palestine.

Recently Canada submitted a statement opposing an International Court of Justice (ICJ) advisory opinion on UN General Assembly resolution A/RES/77/247. Titled “Israeli Practices Affecting the Human rights of the Palestinian People in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem”, the resolution requested the UN legal authority deliver an advisory opinion on “the legal consequences arising from the ongoing violation by Israel of the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination.”

Canada’s position is that the ICJ shouldn’t offer an opinion on the legal consequences arising for states and the UN from Israel’s occupation. The government actually tasked its bureaucrats with crafting an argument demanding the World Court not release a legal opinion requested by the international community.

Canada’s statement says Israel should agree to the ICJ issuing an advisory opinion on the legal status of its more than half century long occupation before the court does so. Ottawa claims it wants Israel and Palestine to sit down and discuss the matter. This is akin to arguing a murderer must agree to a court process before it begins and that the family of the victim and the killer should discuss the matter before the case proceeds. How far do you think a defence lawyer would get with that contention?

While it submits a ridiculous opinion demanding the World Court not deliver an advisory opinion, the Trudeau government touts it adherence to the rule of international law. Its stated justification for pouring huge amounts of weaponry into Ukraine is that Russia’s invasion is a violation of such law. Following the same logic shouldn’t Canada be arming the Palestinians who are also victims of a country flouting international law? Instead, the Trudeau government opposes the World Court even delivering a legal opinion on Israel’s occupation.

Canada’s submission even contradicts Ottawa’s official position, which ostensibly supports Palestinians’ right to self-determination. Canadian policy says that under “UN Security Council Resolutions 446 and 465, Israeli settlements in the occupied territories are a violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention, [and] the settlements also constitute a serious obstacle to achieving a comprehensive, just and lasting peace.” Yet the Canadian submission opposes the ICJ considering the issue of settlements in the occupied West Bank.

This isn’t the first time the Trudeau government has sought to block international courts from discussing Israel’s violation of international law. In 2020 Ottawa pressed the International Criminal Court to stop investigating Israeli war crimes. Ottawa sent a letter to the ICC saying it didn’t believe the court had jurisdiction over Palestine. “Canada’s longstanding position is that it does not recognize a Palestinian state and therefore does not recognize the accession of such a state to international treaties, including the Rome Statute. In the absence of a Palestinian state, it is Canada’s view that the Court does not have jurisdiction in this matter,” a Global Affairs official told the Jerusalem Post. But it doesn’t matter if Canada recognizes Palestine. The vast majority of UN member states recognized Palestine and it joined the ICC in 2015.

Canada’s position at the ICC and IJC are among the innumerable ways Canada supports (or encourages, one could argue) Israeli apartheid. The Trudeau government has expanded the Canada-Israel free trade agreement, organized a pizza party for Canadians fighting in the Israeli military, voted against over 60 UN resolutions upholding Palestinian rights, sued to block proper labels on wines from illegal settlements and created a special envoy to deflect criticism of Israeli abuses. During a 2018 visit to Israel, former foreign affairs minister Freeland announced that should Canada win a seat on the United Nations Security Council it would act as an “asset for Israel” on that powerful body.

The Trudeau government’s contribution to Palestinian dispossession is reprehensible. Despite the new far-right Jewish supremacist government, Ottawa continues its staunch support to the point it embarrasses fair-minded Canadians with its flagrant double standard regarding a rules-based international order.

Shame on the Liberals. Shame on us for allowing this to happen in our name.


Please take a minute to call on Canada to reverse its position on the ICJ advisory opinion on Palestine.


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