Canada must impose visa bans on Israeli settlers: CJPME

Montreal, December 15, 2023 — Canadians for Justice and Peace in the Middle East (CJPME) is calling on the Canadian government to take meaningful action against Israeli settler violence, amid an epidemic of violence and displacement of Palestinians in the occupied West Bank. In a letter sent today to Foreign Affairs Minister Mélanie Joly, CJPME urges Canada to follow the lead of the US, UK, and EU in imposing visa bans on Israeli settlers involved in violence, but insists that Israeli officials must be held equally accountable. CJPME recommends that Canada impose sanctions on far-right Israeli Minister of National Security Ben-Gvir and consider designating Israel as a state supporter of terrorism.

“We insist that Canada must follow the lead of the US and UK in responding to settler violence, but strongly caution against focusing on a handful of extremist individuals while ignoring the role of the state,” said Michael Bueckert, Vice President of CJPME. “Israeli settler violence is a form of state-backed terrorism, and should be treated as such,” said Bueckert.

CJPME notes the primary responsibility for the skyrocketing levels of settler violence rests with the Israeli government, which has encouraged acts of violence against Palestinians while refusing to enforce the law against settlers. The UN reports that in nearly half of recorded incidents of settler violence since Oct. 7, “Israeli forces were either accompanying or reportedly seen as supporting the attackers.” For these reasons, Israel’s largest human rights organization B’Tselem has concluded that “settler violence is a form of government policy, aided and abetted by official state authorities with their active participation.”

CJPME’s letter also raises the alarm about reports that Minister Ben-Gvir has instructed senior officers not to enforce the law against settlers who commit violence against Palestinians, and emphasizes that Ben-Gvir’s entire career has involved consistent support for Israeli settler terrorism. “We can no longer pretend that it is normal for a lifelong supporter of ideologically motivated terrorism against Palestinians to be responsible for Israel’s national security,” wrote Bueckert, “action must be taken immediately to protect Palestinian lives.”

CJPME’s letter makes the following recommendations:

  • Canada must follow the US, UK and EU in imposing a visa ban on individuals involved in and responsible for settler violence. This list should be based on clear and public criteria, and include settler individuals, military officers and political leaders.
  • Canada must impose strict sanctions on Israeli National Security Itamar Ben-Gvir for his facilitation of acts of terrorism against Palestinians in the OPT.
  • Canada must investigate whether there are grounds for designating Israel as a state supporter of terrorism under the State Immunity Act, which would allow victims to bring civil action against Israel for losses or damages from an act of terrorism with links to Israel committed anywhere in the world;
  • Canada must immediately suspend two-way military trade with Israel and investigate whether Canadian-manufactured weapons have been implicated in acts of terrorism against Palestinians in the occupied West Bank.
  • Canada must suspend the Canada-Israel Free Trade Agreement (CIFTA) and prohibit the trade of goods, services, and investment with Israel’s illegal settlements.