Oppose Israel's Illegal "Settlements"

According to the majority of countries worldwide and the UN, the West Bank and Gaza should be the basis for a future Palestinian state.  Of course, the presence and continued expansion of Israeli settlements represent a serious obstacle to achieving a comprehensive, just and lasting peace between Israelis and Palestinians. Canada’s official policy on Israel-Palestine states that the “settlements” constitute a serious obstacle to peace. That being said, the Canadian government rarely condemns Israel’s illegal settlements and even has a free trade agreement with Israel which encompasses Israel’s settlements. As such, Canadian leaders must do their part to oppose the construction of illegal Israeli settlements on Palestinian land. Canadian politicians must loudly condemn the settlement enterprise, and underscore that these settlements are a major impediment to peace.

Overview

During the 1967 war, Israel invaded and militarily occupied the West Bank and Gaza.  Over 50 years later, Israel still maintains a permanent occupation in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and a de facto occupation of Gaza.   Since 1967, in violation of international law, Israel has been colonizing the West Bank and East Jerusalem with Jewish Israelis.  Israel calls these colonies “settlements,” and to date, there are now 620,000 Jewish Israelis in the West Bank and East Jerusalem.[1]  Some of these colonies are small cities: for example, the settlement of Ariel has 20,000 residents, a university and an industrial zone.[2] Despite international condemnation, Israel’s settlement enterprise has gone on continuously since 1967. 

According to the UN, the West Bank and Gaza should be the basis for a future Palestinian state.  Of course, the presence and continued expansion of Israeli settlements represent a serious obstacle to achieving a comprehensive, just and lasting peace between Israelis and Palestinians. Canada’s official policy on Israel-Palestine states that the “settlements” constitute a serious obstacle to peace. That being said, the Canadian government rarely condemns Israel’s illegal settlements and even has a free trade agreement with Israel which encompasses Israel’s settlements.  

Questions for Federal Candidates

  • Do you believe that Palestinians should enjoy the same human rights as other peoples?
  • Do you believe that Canada should speak out in support of its own official foreign policy positions?
  • Do you believe that Israel should be held to its obligations as a signatory to the Fourth Geneva Convention?

If elected:

  • Will you consider making a statement in the House condemning Israeli settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories?
  • Will you work within caucus to raise awareness of the human rights abuses suffered by Palestinians under Israeli occupation?

Supporting Points

  • International Law and the UN Position. There is wide international consensus within the international community that Israeli settlements are illegal and constitute a flagrant violation of international law. Legally, the Palestinian territories are considered “occupied territory,” and are thus subject to the stipulations of the Fourth Geneva Convention. Article 49 of the Convention states that an occupier may not transfer parts of its own civilian population into the occupied territory. This view has been supported by the International Court of Justice (ICJ), numerous UN Resolutions, and reiterated by several UN bodies. For example, UN Security Council Resolutions 446 (1979) and 465 (1980) both state that Israeli settlements in the occupied territories are a violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention. In 2016, the Security Council passed Resolution 2334, which reiterated its demand that Israel immediately cease all settlement activity in the occupied Palestinian territories.[3] The International Court of Justice, also concluded that Israel violated its obligations under international law by constructing settlements and a barrier wall in the occupied territories.[4] The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights has also called for an immediate cessation and reversal of all Israeli settlements in the illegally occupied territories.
  • Canada’s Official Position. In keeping with the principles of international law, Canada does not recognize permanent Israeli control over the Golan Heights, the West Bank, Gaza Strip or East Jerusalem. The Canadian government recognizes the application of the Fourth Geneva Convention in the occupied Palestinian territories, and acknowledges Israel’s obligations as an occupying power. Official government policy states clearly that the illegal settlements represent an obstacle to a comprehensive, just and lasting peace in the Middle East.[5] 
  • The Need for Urgency. Many international leaders have suggested that, as a result of Israel’s illegal settlement activities, the “two state solution” is no longer a viable option in Israel-Palestine.  Data collected by Peace Now in 2018 revealed the highest level of settlement planning by Israel seen since 2013.[6]

Recommendations for Canada

  • Canadian leaders must do their part to oppose the construction of illegal Israeli settlements on Palestinian land. Canadian politicians must loudly condemn the settlement enterprise, and underscore that these settlements are a major impediment to peace.
  • In the absence of leadership from Washington, Canada should take initiative and work with allies to facilitate a just peace in Israel-Palestine.

 

 

[1] B’Tselem. (2019). Statistics on settlements and settler population. Retrieved February 12, 2019, from https://www.btselem.org/settlements/statistics

[2] Simons, J.W. (2013). Meet the settlers. The Telegraph. Retrieved February 12, 2019, from https://www.telegraph.co.uk/meetthesettlers/chapter6.html

[3] United Nations Security Council. (2016). Resolution 2334. Retrieved February 12, 2019, from http://www.un.org/webcast/pdfs/SRES2334-2016.pdf

[4] International Court of Justice. (2004). Legal consequences of the construction of a wall in the occupied Palestinian territory. Retrieved February 12, 2019, from https://www.icj-cij.org/files/case-related/131/131-20040709-ADV-01-00-EN.pdf

[5]  Government of Canada. (n.d.). Canadian policy on key issues in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Retrieved on February 12, 2019, from https://international.gc.ca/world-monde/international_relations-relations_internationales/mena-moan/israeli-palistinian_policy-politique_israelo-palestinien.aspx?lang=eng

[6] Israeli settlement activity surged in Trump era: Monitor group. (2019). Al Jazeera. Retrieved February 12, 2019, from https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2019/01/israeli-settlement-activity-surged-trump-era-monitor-group-190102063008681.html

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