By Doğan Akman
During the May 13 Question Period in the House of Commons , Elizabeth May, MP for the Green Party, asked a question which displayed her total ignorance of the facts and the law concerning the alleged illegal annexation, settlements and forced evictions and about the causes and nature of the situation on these matters.
Her question reads:
“The current crisis was provoked by actions of the Netanyahu government and other extreme elements within the settler groups. Can Canada speak out clearly to defend the Palestinian people against illegal annexation, illegal settlements and illegal forced evictions?”
One would reasonably think that the Minister of Foreign Affairs, the Hon. Marc Garneau with all the research staff at his disposal would answer this inflammatory question in an informed manner based on incontrovertible facts and evidence.
Regrettably, having regard to the manner in which the Trudeau government comments on the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, just as is the case with Canada’s scandalous handling of the serious UNRWA antisemitic/anti-Zionist educational problems, clearly such a reasonable expectation has become unreasonable.
The Minister’s answer was:
“Mr. Speaker, Canada remains gravely concerned by the continued expansion of the settlements and by the demolitions and evictions, including the ongoing cases of Sheik Jarrah and Silwan. These actions impact families and livelihoods and do not serve peace or international law. Unilateral actions that prejudice the outcome of direct negotiations and further jeopardize the prospects for a two state solutions must be avoided. We will always stand ready to support efforts for a two-state solution.”
The fact of the matter is that if the Minister was properly briefed about the international law governing Israel’s legal entitlement to authorise the establishment of settlements in Judea and Samaria, he would have one less thing to be concerned about. All his staff has to do is to start with the San Remo Resolution of 1920 and carry on right through section 80 of the Charter of the United Nations. It means they need be informed to do their jobs.
However, if he insists in remaining gravely concerned, he ought to be concerned by the incontrovertible fact that some member countries of the European Union are busily financing and otherwise assisting the Palestinian Authority to help it breach the Oslo Accord by putting up illegal buildings in Area “C” which under the Accord is within the exclusive control of Israel. This makes the E.U countries party to the breach of the Accord, and thereby guilty of breach of international law.
If the Minister is gravely concerned about the impact of the expansion of the “settlements” on Palestinian families and livelihoods, is he concerned with the illegal land grab being carried out by Arabs in Area “C” under PA direction?
With respect to the so-called “demolitions” what would any Canadian or provincial government if there is, as is the case in Israel, an epidemic of illegal construction on public and private lands ravaging the provincial landscape” and a particular ethnic or national group of Canadians were to build and keep insisting on building in urban and rural parts of the province in breach of the applicable zoning and/or other laws that prohibit the erection of these buildings?
Israel’s judicial system is internationally known and respected for being independent and strong. If a proposed alleged demolition is illegal under the laws governing the matter, the Supreme Court would not hesitate to prohibit it.
On the matter of the alleged eviction of the Arab residents of Sheik Jarrah the Minister, betrays his ignorance of facts and law.
Wishing to help him put to rest his self-induced grave concern about the alleged evictions, I refer him to a few factual and contextual articles., two of which relate the facts from the mouths of the Arab residents; Baruch Yedid, “Arab Sheik Jarrah Residents Complain: ‘Lawyers Prevented Compromise and Compensation Arrangements” May 4,2021; David Lange, Shimon Hatzadik (Sheik Jarrah) Arabs: Our Lawyers and PA Caused our Predicament, May 10,2021; Elliott Abrams, Israel Erupts: Cutting through the Misinformation Surrounding Part of This Conflict, May 11,2021 and Bassem Eid, This has nothing to do with Sheikh Jarrah, May 12,2021
As Eid put it succinctly:
“The pretext for the latest missile barrage and social media incitement is Sheikh Jarrah, where a long-running legal dispute was scheduled for a court hearing. This had been a private matter between Jews who have an old property deed from the 1800s and the residents of four homes who have lived there for decades and do not want to pay rent. It is the kind of situation that should be handled by a local municipal court. This could happen in any other country and there would be no public interest. But this is Jerusalem, so you have to view everything in the context of the political situation. You also have to ask yourself: who stands to gain from political violence right now?”
As to the allegations concerning Silwan, I ask the Minister to assume his responsibilities and do his homework.
As to Canada’s support of the moribund two-state solution, is the Minister gravely concerned about the incontrovertible fact that Hamas, Islamic Jihad and the Palestinian Authority have never supported, let alone pursue this solution in good faith? If he is, why did he not express this concern?
Ultimately, the worst thing about the Minister’s reply is his failure to challenge the inflammatory and misleading nature of the premises and substance of the question before replying to it.
Whether the Minister, realises it or not, and by now, he ought to have realised it, this failure and the nature of his answer feed antisemitism and give credence to prejudices against Israel based on fake news.
Barring a resumption of hostilities by Hamas, given the unconditional ceasefire agreement between Israel and Hamas, the Minister can now research the true facts of the matters with respect to which he misinformed the House, and use the next opportunity to correct himself.