“Community MPs” & the Stance on Annexation

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Hussein Hoballah – Montreal

Israel’s plan to annex large parts of the West Bank has been met with wide-scale national and international opposition. Many civil organisations of Canada have successfully urged tens of MPs to sign a pledge “to consider all reasonable diplomatic and economic options to stop annexation and prompt Israeli compliance with international law.” Inexplicably, many MPs supposed to be representing the Muslim-Arab community have not been on the list of the advocating MPs.

Earlier in 2020, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu declared he would annex large swaths of the West Bank – occupied since 1967 – to the Hebrew entity. Armed by the US administration and alarming Arab silence, Netanyahu had been planning to officially announce this serious step at the beginning of this month.

However, the annexation plan has been forcibly postponed amid massive Palestinian rage and strong official condemnation by the EU, and the UK, whose Prime Minister Boris Johnson wrote in the Israeli newspaper Yedioth Ahronoth on Wednesday that the annexation would oppose Israel’s interests in the long run. Though an ardent pro-Israeli, Johnson said, “The annexation would violate international law.” Over a thousand MPs from all over Europe have signed a letter that strongly opposes joining any parts of the occupied West Bank to Israel.

In Canada, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau highlighted his “deep concerns and disagreement” with Netanyahu’s government’s decision. Other Canadian officials have, as well, pointed out there was “no chance” Canada would concede with the annexation. Moreover, over 50 officials urged Trudeau at last June’s beginning to “start speaking out loud and clearly” on this issue.

Launched by civil associations and organisations like “Canadians for Justice and Peace in the Middle East, “Independent Jewish Voices Canada”, the “United Church of Canada”, and the “Canadian Labour Congress”, a petition was sent to parliament, asking of MPs to pledge to push the Canadian government to “show meaningful opposition” to the annexation planned recently by Israeli officials, and “to consider all reasonable diplomatic and economic options to stop annexation and prompt Israeli compliance with international law.”

The advocates believe Canada’s stance has been limited to “words” of “non-recognition” (of the annexation), and that could change nothing. Thus, they’ve called on the Canadian government to officially condemn the Israeli plan. They have stressed the need for “a strong and decisive action which may actually deter Israel from moving ahead with its plans.” The associations and organisations also noted, “When Russia annexed Crimea in 2014, for example, Canada responded with sanctions.” Their statement, thus, called for “a consistent and principled approach to international law.”

Until the date of this publication, approximately 60 MPs have signed the pledge: All Bloc Quebecois caucus, 32 MPs, have shown support to the campaign, alongside over 20 NDP MPs, 3 Greens, an independent MP and 4 Liberals. Among the Conservatives, in contrast, were no signatories.

Notably, most MPs of Arab and Muslim origins have not signed the petition, raising the question on their role when it comes to matters like this, unanimously opposed by the community and believed to be a flagrant violation with international law. Eventually, the annexation plan contradicts Canada’s current policy as regards the Palestinian issue.

Among some non-signatory MPs are ones with statements condemning the Israeli decision. In the meantime, most of our MPs have overlooked the incidents, as if everything were nice and cool… Yet when it comes to any celebration or event organised by other groups or communities, they rush to make stances and opinions. Well, that surely sounds so good; MPs representing various crowds must do so, but what about our community?

So do those MPs even belong to our community? Or have they reneged on us after reaching office? Are they afraid they might be slammed by Pro-Israel lobbies? Why so when other MPs, unelected and not impacted by our community’s votes, have taken a public standpoint against Israel’s occupation and injustices?

Undoubtedly, our community understands that some decisions our MPs make are influenced by certain circumstances, especially when lead is to their parties. Nevertheless, many stances have been surfacing, signalling broken promises and serious breaches. 

It is not enough when our MPs help solve a problem with someone’s passport, or with the delayed immigration papers of spouses or relatives. There are much greater issues that necessitate clear and firm stances, as the Palestinian cause does in time of besiegement, annexation and settlement construction. Otherwise, supporting those MPs and voting for them in the coming elections must be recalculated.