November 30, 2012

Go Canada!

Yesterday's vote at the U.N. granting the Palestinians “non-member observer state" was quite the spectacle.

We’ve seen this ugliness before, e.g., during the 1930s, when the League of Nations (predecessor to the UN) did nothing to stop a genocidal movement from spreading throughout Europe; when Time Magazine's “Man of the Year” was mass murderer Adolf Hitler; and when the United States of America remained neutral in the face of unthinkable horrors, until forced to join the fray following the attack on Pearl Harbor.  

Well, today it's déjà vu all over again. Rather than thwarting the Palestinian bid, as a previous U.S. administration did, the current administration issued perfunctory statements of condemnation and led from behind.

In a June 3, 2011 op-ed entitled “How to Block the Palestine Statehood Ploy: Congress can take a cue from Jim Baker in 1989 and threaten to cut U.S. money for the U.N., former UN Ambassador John Bolton wrote:

The lesson for today is plain. If President Obama wants to block a General Assembly Palestinian statehood resolution, he should act essentially as Messrs. Bush and Baker did. Yet Mr. Obama is highly unlikely to do anything so decisive, which is why many in America and Israel remain gravely concerned about this latest Palestinian diplomatic ploy. 

Sure enough, one and a half years later, President Obama chose NOT to block the resolution. Which begs the question: Was Mr. Obama’s support of Israel’s “right to defend itself” during the recent Gaza conflict intended to shore up brownie points and give him greater leverage in pressuring Israel to make (more) concessions in the so-called peace process?

In any case, one country that made us proud yesterday was Canada, which stood on principle and showed the rest of the world what doing the right thing looks like (see below). 

British historian Paul Johnson once wrote:

"The study of history is a powerful antidote to contemporary arrogance. It is humbling to discover how many of our glib assumptions, which seem to us novel and plausible, have been tested before, not once but many times and in innumerable guises; and discovered to be, at great human cost, wholly false."

Yet we continue to ignore history, which will no doubt be at great human cost.... again.

The Globe and Mail  |  November 30, 2012

Canada 'Disqualified' Itself From Palestinian Peace Talks After UN Vote, Negotiator Says

By Campbell Clark, Ottawa

Canadian FM at UN vote.jpg
Canadian Foreign Minister John Baird addresses the United Nations Generally Assembly at UN Headquarters, in New York, November 29, 2012. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas appealed to the U.N. General Assembly to recognize Palestinian statehood by supporting a resolution to upgrade the U.N. observer status of the Palestinian Authority from "entity" to "non-member state." Reuters/Chip East

Canada has "disqualified" itself from any future role in the Middle East peace process with its vitriolic opposition to upgraded UN status for Palestinians, the chief negotiator for the Palestinian Authority says.

The Palestinian Authority won a lopsided victory in its bid for “non-member observer state” status at the UN, 138 to 9, with 41 abstentions. Canada was one of the nine that voted against.

Chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat made the comments after Canadian Foreign Minister John Baird issued a statement announcing that Canada is temporarily withdrawing its ambassadors from the UN and Middle East to plot the next steps to react to the UN vote.

Mr. Erekat said that Canadian threats of reprisals and Mr. Baird’s decision to personally campaign against the Palestinian resolution at the UN have ruled Ottawa out of a future role.

“I believe this government is more Israeli than the Israelis, more settler than the settlers,” he said in an interview with The Globe and Mail. “I think they have disqualified themselves from playing any role in the Middle East peace process.”

In particular, he said, Canada is no longer fit for its long-standing role as the so-called “gavel-holder” of the Refugee Working Group – a post that makes Canada the chair of international discussions on Palestinian refugee issues.

Mr. Baird said Canada is reviewing its relationship with the Palestinian Authority.

“To that end, Canada is bringing its heads of missions in Israel and Ramallah and its permanent representatives to the UN in New York and Geneva back to Ottawa temporarily to assess the implications of yesterday’s UN General Assembly vote and inform Canada’s response to it,” he said in a statement issued Friday morning.

Mr. Baird provided no indication what Ottawa’s next move will be – although in his speech to the UN on Thursday warned that there will be a response. It’s unclear if the Harper government will result to dramatic steps like expelling the Palestinian delegation in Ottawa or cutting off aid. Canada has provided $300-million in aid over the past five years to the Palestinian Authority.

Original article here.


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