Quebeckers oppose Quebec trade office in Apartheid Israel

Montreal, August 14, 2023 — Quebeckers are expressing their outrage over a recent announcement that the Quebec government will be opening a trade office in Israel, despite credible accusations that the Israeli government is imposing a regime of apartheid on Palestinians. Quebec Minister of International Relations and La Francophonie, Martine Biron, made the announcement on August 3 that Quebec would be opening an office in Tel Aviv to build trade relations with Israel, and that it would cost half a million dollars in its first year. Montreal-based Canadians for Justice and Peace in the Middle East (CJPME) is urging the Quebec government to reverse its decision to open a trade office, which suggests that the province is indifferent to Israel’s abysmal human rights record.

“Quebec has chosen to reward Israel’s far-right government with trade deals despite the fact that international and Israeli human rights organizations have accused that country of imposing apartheid practices on Palestinians,” said Thomas Woodley, President of CJPME. CJPME points out that Israel’s current right-wing government is currently taking significant illegal steps to de facto annex Palestinian land and destroy any possibility of Palestinian self-determination. “If Quebec leaders believe in the right to self-determination for all peoples, they would not deepen ties with an apartheid state which is denying that right to others,” added Woodley.

Quebec’s announcement has been criticized by MNA Ruba Ghazal of Québec Solidaire, who tweeted: “Opening a Quebec office in Israel when it is led by an extreme right-wing coalition opposed by the population is immoral. And not a word from [Minister Biron] about the Palestinians. I am shocked! It is not worthy of Quebec.” CJPME hopes that more MNAs will speak out against the announcement. Quebec’s decision to expand economic and research partnerships with Israel also contradicts the demands of Palestinian civil society, which has asked the international community to impose boycotts, divestment, and sanctions on Israel as a form of non-violent economic pressure.

CJPME notes that Israel’s far-right coalition government is officially opposed to Palestinian self-determination, and is guided by a statement of principles which claims that the entire territory under Israeli control belongs exclusively to the Jewish people. Prime Minister Netanyahu has recently promised to “crush” Palestinian statehood aspirations, while key coalition partners see Palestinians as inferior and have called for their expulsion. This year, Israel has rapidly advanced illegal colonial settlements at a record pace and has taken steps that amount to the annexation of the occupied West Bank. Meanwhile, Israel’s racist treatment of the Palestinians has been identified as “apartheid” by UN experts, Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, B’Tselem, and leading Israeli and Palestinian human rights groups.

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

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