WORLD NEWS Canada shows itself undependable, unprincipled and foolish

Canada shows itself undependable, unprincipled and foolish

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What is guaranteed to continue the cycle of violence is to leave Hamas in power

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Bob Rae was caught on a hot microphone, just after he joined in calls for a ceasefire in Gaza late Tuesday.

“We’ll see how that flies,” Canada’s ambassador at the United Nations said, off camera, after telling the UN general assembly that Canada supports the “humanitarian ceasefire” proposed in a resolution that was supported by 153 countries and opposed by just 10.

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Whether his comment was made in exasperation at having to relay support for a ceasefire that he does not agree with, only he knows (and he’s not saying).

But he has grounds for frustration. On Oct. 26, the UN general assembly voted on a resolution calling for a “humanitarian truce” that did not explicitly mention Hamas’s attack on Israel on Oct. 7. At the time, Rae said Canada could not support the text because the role of Hamas was being ignored. He proposed an amendment that condemned Hamas’s role in the Oct. 7 terrorist attack, saying “it names what has to be named.”

“If the proposed amendment is not adopted, the Assembly will not have recognized one of the world’s worst terrorist attacks and we will all have to live with that failure,” he said.

The amendment did not get the necessary two-thirds majority support, and Canada consequently abstained.

Fast forward to Tuesday. The resolution before the assembly called for an “immediate humanitarian ceasefire” (that is, a more formal and permanent “solution” than a truce). It not only failed to condemn Hamas, it didn’t even mention the terrorist organization. As Austrian amendment citing the role of Hamas in instigating the escalation of violence did not garner enough support to pass — yet Canada still voted in favour of the resolution.

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The question is: what does Canada stand for?”

The answer is clear: not much, beyond Winston Churchill’s description of weather-vane governments everywhere: “resolved to be irresolute, adamant for drift and solid for fluidity.”

Canada is exposed as an undependable, unprincipled ally.

A joint statement the Trudeau government issued Tuesday with Australia and New Zealand did call Hamas’s attack “heinous,” said the group was responsible for sexual violence against Israelis, and that it used Palestinian populations as human shields.

But crucially, while the statement said Hamas cannot be allowed to govern Gaza any longer, it then called for the ceasefire that would neuter Israel’s ability to defeat Hamas through military force.

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Canada has long had a policy that there are far too many resolutions at the UN related to the Arab-Israel conflict that unfairly single out Israel and seek to isolate the Jewish state. For two decades, Canada has voted against those resolutions, with only a couple of exceptions, and has insisted that the destructive role played by Hezbollah and Hamas be addressed.

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The vote on Tuesday was yet another attempt to isolate and pressure Israel, and this time Canada colluded.

Politics is the art of the possible and at the UN not much is possible. Not much was ever changed by a vote by the general assembly.

It hardly needs to be said that the call for a ceasefire is a delusion. Even if Israel recognized the point made by Canada’s Global Affairs Minister Mélanie Joly, that its actions “only enhance the cycle of violence,” with whom would it negotiate a signed agreement?

Hamas’s leader, Yahya Sinwar has said publicly that the slaughter on Oct. 7th “was just a rehearsal.” Hamas is an avowedly genocidal organization and there will be no partner for peace until it no longer controls Gaza.

As Israel’s permanent representative at the UN, Gilad Erdan, said, a ceasefire means only “the survival of Hamas.”

The situation on the ground in Gaza is undoubtedly bleak and the collateral damage immense. Estimates by The Economist, based on satellite images, suggest 15 per cent of all buildings have been damaged, and around 429,000 people have seen their homes completely or partially destroyed. The Gaza Media Office claims 18,476 Palestinians have been killed, a number that is impossible to verify but one that is hardly surprising given the bunker-buster bombs Israel has dropped to destroy Hamas’s tunnel network. Food, water and fuel are scarce, while hospitals are overcrowded and short of supplies.

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Yet, what did Justin Trudeau think he meant when he said Israel has the right to defend itself? Would Canada have responded with any less righteous anger if it were attacked?

This was always going to be a bloody business and Trudeau sanctioned that bloodshed, at least until it became so bloody that it started stoking domestic political dissension.

It is easy to say that “the price of defeating Hamas cannot be the continuous suffering of Palestinian civilians” but it is clearly much harder to put into practice.

In a year-end interview with The Canadian Press, the prime minister said that it is impossible to “find a mythical fine line of a balanced position,” which is why he should have stuck with the line of resolute and principled support for an ally in time of trial.

The reality is that the fighting will continue, whatever the UN says. Israel has said it will seek to finish the job, “with or without international support.”

What is guaranteed to continue the cycle of violence is to leave Hamas in power. Both sides have to want peace for it to prosper and there is the ghost of a chance that it can after Hamas is gone.

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Both sides have to take on the extremists who have led them down the path to disaster. Benjamin Netanyahu is a clear obstruction to reconciliation. His strategy of marginalizing the Palestinians has failed, as has his promise of a safe space for Jews. Fortunately, polls suggest three-quarters of Israelis want him gone. Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas is 88, corrupt and illegitimate. There is a possible path to peace if enough people on both sides resolve that new visions are needed, and that perpetual war is not a viable alternative.

But that cannot happen if the current conflict is frozen by a ceasefire that postpones the inevitable — another wasteland and another lost generation.

National Post

jivison@criffel.ca

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