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Major Jewish Groups to PM: Return to Principled Voting at UN

November 16, 2020
OTTAWA – B’nai Brith Canada and Friends of Simon Wiesenthal Center have joined the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs (CIJA) in formally writing to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Foreign Minister Francois-Philippe Champagne, urging the Government of Canada to return to its principled and unequivocal opposition to the annual United Nations General Assembly basket of resolutions entitled “The Question of Palestine.”

The letter, co-signed by the chairs of the three national organizations, was delivered to the Prime Minister on Friday, Nov. 13 in advance of the vote this week.

“For nearly 20 years, successive Canadian governments have rejected such toxic and one-sided resolutions, declaring that they projected a distorted narrative of the conflict in the Middle East and were unhelpful in advancing peace,” said Michael Levitt, President and CEO of FSWC.

Michael Mostyn, CEO of B’nai Brith Canada, added: “This annual exercise attacking Israel employs offensive language that does not promote peace and prejudges the outcome of negotiations. Through unbalanced and prejudicial support for Palestinian self-determination, this resolution in particular denies the very same inherent right to the Jewish people. It impairs the legitimate goals and the effectiveness of the United Nations.”

CIJA CEO Shimon Koffler Fogel observed: “The unity expressed in jointly writing to the Prime Minister underscores how deeply this issue resonates within Canada’s Jewish community. We understand that Canada is looking for ways to re-affirm its support for a peaceful resolution that results in two states for two peoples. However, there are far more constructive opportunities for Canada to do so, especially given that support for this resolution perpetuates the distortion and abuse of the United Nations and its agencies.”

Additional Background:

• Beginning in 2002, Prime Minister Paul Martin and Foreign Minister Pierre Pettigrew announced the GOC’s intention to review and re-calibrate Canadian votes at the UNGA due to the excessive and unhelpful language used and the singling out of Israel.

• Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Foreign Minister John Baird accelerated that process and adopted a policy of uniform rejection of all resolutions in the Question of Palestine resolutions tabled annually at the UN General Assembly.

• Under the leadership of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, the Government of Canada entrenched this policy during his first term in Government from 2015-2019.

• Canada departed from this established policy last year, when it changed its vote, triggering widespread disappointment and anger within the pro-Israel community – especially in light of assurances expressed by multiple Liberal Party candidates during the 2019 Election Campaign that a re-elected Liberal government would stand firm and maintain its comprehensive rejection of all relevant UNGA resolutions.