Montreal, May 17, 2023 — Canadians for Justice and Peace in the Middle East (CJPME) welcomes a new parliamentary study into how Canada can support human rights in Palestine and Israel, as approved yesterday by the House of Commons Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Development. A motion brought forward by NDP MP Heather McPherson was approved in a vote of 6-3 with one abstention, with support from the Bloc Québécois and most Liberal MPs. The forthcoming study, which is believed to be the first of its kind in decades, will explore “the actions that Canada should take” to promote human rights and international law in the region. CJPME thanks MP McPherson for her leadership in bringing this motion forward.
“A parliamentary study on human rights in Palestine and Israel is long overdue, and we hope that this will provide a foundation for a major shift in Canadian policy towards the region,” said Michael Bueckert, Vice President of CJPME. CJPME urges the committee to reach out to Palestinian and Israeli human rights defenders and experts with on-the-ground experiences when building its list of witnesses, and to prioritize Palestinian voices as the group which is oppressed and marginalized. “For this study to be meaningful, MPs must seek out testimony directly from Palestinians and human rights groups working on the ground in Palestine, who can speak to the realities of occupation and apartheid,” added Bueckert.
For years, CJPME has been critical of Canada’s refusal to listen to the expertise of the human rights sector. Last year, Canada rejected outright the conclusions of Amnesty International that Israel is committing the crime of apartheid, despite the government’s inability to identify any substantive issue or criticism that would justify rejecting the report. Canada has also been uniquely muted on Israel’s criminalization of six leading Palestinian human rights groups, when compared to statements from ‘like-minded’ European countries. Canada has similarly failed to take appropriate action in response to Israeli violations of human rights and international law, and continues to approve the export of weapons to Israel while voting against Palestinian human rights at the United Nations General Assembly. CJPME hopes that this study, along with Canada’s announced bid for a seat on the UN Human Rights Council, will force Canada to dramatically recalibrate its approach towards the human rights situation in Palestine.
The final text of the passed motion, as amended, reads:
That, pursuant to Standing Order 108(2), and in light of recent events in Israel, the West Bank, and Gaza, the committee should conduct a study on the actions Canada should take to foster peace, protect civilians, combat terrorism, and uphold respect for human rights and international law in the region; that the study consists of at least four meetings; that relevant ministers be invited to appear and that the committee invite witnesses from Canadian civil society, international humanitarian organizations, as well as Israeli and Palestinian human rights organizations and peacebuilding organizations; that the committee reports its findings to the House; and that pursuant to Standing Order 109 the government table a comprehensive response to this report.
About CJPME – Canadians for Justice and Peace in the Middle East (CJPME) is a non-profit and secular organization bringing together men and women of all backgrounds who labour to see justice and peace take root again in the Middle East. Its mission is to empower decision-makers to view all sides with fairness and to promote the equitable and sustainable development of the region.
For more information, please contact: Michael Bueckert, VP CJPME: 613-315-7947 or [email protected]
Canadians for Justice and Peace in the Middle East www.cjpme.org
The whole or parts of this press release can be reproduced without permission.