Canada defended its shift in its historic pro-Israel voting pattern at the United Nations General Assembly, through which it cast a “yes” vote for the second year in a row on the annual resolution in favor the right of Palestinian people to self-determination.
Prior to 2019, Canada had joined a small number of countries in rejecting the resolution, which the UNGA approved Wednesday in New York with a 168-5 vote, compared to 167-5, last year.
Both years the following five countries rejected the resolution; Israel, Marshall Islands, Micronesia, Nauru and the United States.
This year, 10 counties abstained compared to 11 in 2019. They were; Australia, Cameroon, Côte d’Ivoire, Guatemala, Honduras, Kiribati, Palau, South Sudan, Togo and Tonga.
The resolution was the 14th pro-Palestinian and anti-Israel the UNGA has approved this month.
Countries that stand with Israel on these resolutions often do so, as a protest vote against the bias of UN member states toward Israel as reflected in the number of resolutions leveled against it. No other country in the UN, including the worst human rights abuser nations, is the subject of so many resolutions.
Canada typically stands with Israel by abstaining or voting no. But it changed its vote on this particular resolution last year, to protest the US decision to recognize the legitimacy of Israeli West Bank settlements.
This particular text often garners the most support out of all the resolutions and the text is fairly brief and less loaded with charges against Israel than others.
The resolution “reaffirms the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination, including the right to their independent State of Palestine.” It “urges all states and the specialized agencies and organizations of the United Nations system to continue to support and assist the Palestinian people in the early realization of their right to self-determination.”
Pro-Israeli Canadian groups had urged the government to oppose the resolution, while pro-Palestinian groups had asked it extend vote “yes” on other pro-Palestinian texts.
Last month, the Canadian Finance Minster Chrystia Freeland hinted that Canada had voted in favor of the resolution as a statement in favor of human rights and against Israeli populism.
In New York on Wednesday, a Canadian representative told the UNGA that “Canada is a strong ally and close friend of Israel, continuing a partnership that has advanced the shared values and interests of our two democracies since the foundation of the state of Israel in 1948.
“Canada is also committed to the goal of a comprehensive just and lasting peace in the middle east including the creation of a Palestinian state living side by side in peace and security with Israel.
“Canada’s vote today is a reflection of our long standing commitment to the right of self-determination for both Palestinians and Israelis. The resolution before us today focuses on two issues, the right of self-determination of the Palestinian people and the need for all countries to do what they can to support the successful creation of a Palestinian State, living peace and security with its neighbor Israel.”
She added that the resolution focuses on core issues of the conflict.
“Canada does not and will not,” the representative stressed, “support any resolution that unfairly singles out Israel for criticism.”
Her country, she added, would continue to oppose such biased texts.
Lasting peace and security starts with direct talks, “Canada urges both sides to return to negotiations,” she said.