‘Pause’ on military exports to Israel requires confirmation, must lead to embargo: CJPME

Montreal, March 15, 2024 — Canadians for Justice and Peace in the Middle East (CJPME) is cautiously optimistic about reports that Canada has paused military exports to Israel, including supposedly “non-lethal” goods, but is waiting for an official confirmation from Foreign Affairs Minister Joly. If the reports are true, CJPME believes that this could be a major step forward in ending Canada’s complicity in Israel’s war on Gaza. However, in the absence of an announcement, there is concern that these leaks could be part of a misinformation campaign to suppress grassroots momentum for an embargo. CJPME insists that more information is needed to evaluate whether Canadian policy is adequately responding to the human rights risk in Gaza, and reiterates its demand that Minister Joly impose a comprehensive embargo on military trade with Israel.

“Canada needs to be open and transparent about its approach to military exports to Israel, rather than relying on calculated leaks to the press,” said Michael Bueckert, Vice President of CJPME. “If the reports are true, however, Canada’s reported pause on supposedly ‘non-lethal’ exports is a major admission that these military goods pose a serious human rights risk after all, and confirms that civil society was right all along in calling for an embargo,” added Bueckert.

The media reports suggest that Canada has not adopted a formal and transparent policy around military exports to Israel, but that officials are simply delaying approvals for an unknown period. As pointed out by Project Ploughshares, Canada has not notified exporters about any change in policy. CJPME believes that Canada should adopt a clear and public policy of rejecting any new or pending export permits for Israel, explain its reasons for doing so, and define a clear timeline for when this policy will be reviewed, which should be no sooner than the conclusion of the genocide case against Israel at the International Court of Justice (ICJ).

CJPME is also alarmed to learn that Canada is contemplating the export of thirty armoured vehicles to Israel, which Canadian officials apparently consider to be “non-lethal.” These concerns are not allayed by Canada’s decision to “slow-walk” the approvals, as it suggests that they could eventually be approved. “This case is far too reminiscent of the Saudi arms deal scandal, which was a clear example of Canada failing to apply any meaningful human rights test to its arms exports. Canada must not make the same mistake again. Minister Joly should ditch the passive-aggressive stalling on the permit approvals, and firmly reject this request,” said Bueckert.

Canada’s alleged ‘pause’ followed a record-breaking period of military export approvals following October 7. Canada approved a shocking $28.5M worth of military exports to Israel between October and December 2023, exceeding the annual total of any year in the last thirty years. Moreover, the reports were leaked amid growing grassroots pressure for an arms embargo, and only days ahead of an NDP Opposition Day motion in the House of Commons, which includes a measure to “suspend all trade in military goods and technology with Israel.” CJPME has been advocating for an arms embargo for months, alongside a broad range of civil society organizations. A CJPME-initiated Parliamentary e-petition for a two-way arms embargo received over 82,000 signatures, making it the 9th most popular e-petition in Parliament’s history.

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

Canadians for Justice and Peace in the Middle East www.cjpme.org

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