For many years, Canada’s foreign policy decisions, especially when it comes to the Middle East, have been out of touch with what Canadians want their government to do. As such, Canadians for Justice and Peace in the Middle East (CJPME) has developed the Middle East New Deal (MEND) to work as an agenda for election candidates, as a guide for constituents to talk to their representatives, and as a guide for voters to get their candidates thinking about and committing to justice and peace in the Middle East. Whether it be Israel-Palestine, Saudi Arabia, or any other issue in the Middle East, Canadians deserve to have their opinions voiced and their wishes exercised by their representative government on the international stage. As such, MEND will aim to be a comprehensive document, drafted in accordance with International Law, for the Canadian government to adopt policies working towards long-lasting justice and peace in the region. In the first draft, the issue of Israel-Palestine was focused on due to its pertinence and prominence on the international stage, as well as Canada’s long-held position of bias towards Israel, for over a decade now.
Click here to access CJPME's Middle East New Deal.
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.
Many have suggested that economic pressure may be a way to prompt Israel to curtail its human rights abuses against Palestinians. There are many ways to accomplish this, including, but not limited to, the international Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement, launched in 2005 by Palestinian civil society organizations to apply economic pressure on Israel. Canada has failed to impose any economic pressure on Israel to improve its human rights record. Rather, in 2018, the Canadian government introduced a modernized version of the Canada-Israel Free Trade Agreement, prolonging preferential trade agreements with Israel. Canadian leaders should refrain from disparaging the use of economic pressure tactics against Israel, and should instead reflect on the movements’ grassroots popularity and successes.