Duplicitous Trudeau shows his true colours, with support for Israel at ICC

Duplicitous Trudeau shows his true colours, with support for Israel at ICC
6 min read
11 Mar, 2020
Comment: To support Israel at the ICC while pretending to back Palestinians at the UN is a duplicitous charade which must be exposed, writes Ramona Wadi.
Canada disputes the ICC's jurisdiction to investigate Israeli war crimes in the oPt [Getty]
Israel's lobbying against the International Criminal Court's decision to investigate the colonial state for war crimes against Palestinians, is highlighting the hypocrisy of those state leaders choosing to prioritise impunity over legal justice. 

Canada has joined seven countries - Hungary, Brazil, Australia, the Czech Republic, Germany, Uganda and Austria - in disputing the Court's jurisdiction to investigate Israeli war crimes against Palestinians in the occupied territories.

According to the Canadian foreign ministry, the objection is tied to Canada's refusal to recognise an independent Palestinian state. "In the absence of a Palestinian state, it is Canada's view that the court does not have jurisdiction in this matter under international law." The Canadian foreign ministry also insisted it was reiterating previous communications on its position to the ICC, made in 2015 and 2018. 

Amnesty International responded with an open letter to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, and Foreign Minister Francois-Philippe, reminding them of their country's contribution to the Court and, ostensibly, justice, as well as its position within the international consensus of support for the two-state solution.

Supporting the ICC investigation, according to Amnesty International, "would be another strong indication of Canada's regard for the importance of those international legal standards, notably in the areas of international human rights, international humanitarian law and international criminal law." 

Needless to say, Amnesty International's letter falls short of justice with its insistence upon a two-state hypothesis, already rendered obsolete years ago, and since affirmed with the US-Israeli plan to annex the occupied West Bank.

Canada is availing itself of the duplicitous stance exhibited by the international community

The ICC has declared settlement expansion a war crime and the international community, including international human rights organisations, have so far failed to come up with a political response to stop additional war crimes from happening.  

Indeed, Palestinians appear to be fighting the entire war crimes trajectory on their own. The Jerusalem Post pointed out that no single country has written to the ICC in support of the Palestinian people, although the Arab League and the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation have written to express support for ICC jurisdiction. However, there has been no individual effort to sustain the collective position. 

The international consensus contains loopholes for war crimes and as a result, cultivates Israeli impunity. In this regard, Canada is availing itself of the duplicitous stance exhibited by the international community to create its own version of duplicity.

In December 2019, much ado was made over the fact that Canada veered from its tradition of voting against, or abstaining from, pro-Palestine UN resolutions, to back a UN General Assembly Vote for Palestinian self-determination. 

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Anthony Hilton, political coordinator at Canada's UN mission, justified the vote thus: "Canada strongly supports the international consensus on a two-state solution, so that both peoples can have a secure and prosperous future. This is particularly important at a time when the prospects for 'two states two peoples' is increasingly under threat."  

Canada, therefore, voted for the rhetorical international consensus which has achieved nothing in terms of Palestinians' political rights. The departure from its voting traditions is insignificant, given its diplomatic standing alongside Israel. 

Reacting to the unveiling of the US "deal of the century", Canada's foreign ministry issued a statement which failed to express opposition to the plan. While stating that the Canadian government prefers "a negotiated and viable two-state solution", the absence of condemnation reveals Canada's duplicity. Trump's plan includes annexation - a goal which Israel has been working towards through settlement expansion. 

With its duplicitous stance, Canada is tacitly backing the US

Far from taking Canadian diplomacy in a new direction, Trudeau is choosing to support Palestinians where it matters the least - at the UN where colonialism was legitimised and Palestinians now contend with an international day of solidarity to commemorate the 1947 Partition Plan. 

When it comes to legal recourse and political rights, Canada unequivocally supports Israel and leverages its purported commitment to the international consensus, as other western countries have done, to undermine any possibility of holding Israel accountable for its war crimes against the Palestinian people. 

With its duplicitous stance, Canada is tacitly backing the US in its threats to give the green light to annexation if Palestinians refuse negotiations, thus unilaterally allowing Israel to implement Trump's deal. The result would be additional war crimes for the ICC to investigate, which Canada would also likely oppose. 

Along with the other countries which Israel has lobbied successfully, Canada is upholding the power imbalance between a colonised population seeking legal recourse and a colonial entity, militarily and politically backed by the US, as well as the international community.    

Read more: Israel 'drawing up map' for West Bank annexation plan despite global uproar

Predictably, the Palestinians' efforts to hold Israel accountable have been countered by a spectacle insisting on preserving Israel's impunity. Notably, the countries supporting Israel against the ICC have not faced any outrage from the rest of the international community, which further reinforces Palestinian isolation. 

The reason is that the international community's primary concern is two-state diplomacy, rather than upholding the principles of human rights and international law. In this regard, the international community is not at odds with Canada and the other countries raising objections to investigating Israel for war crimes.  

As long as the two-state premise exists, the international community can continue to thwart Palestinian options for justice, unfortunately with the Palestinian Authority's acceptance, given its refusal to consider an alternative to international impositions. 

UN Special Rapporteur Michael Lynk recently expressed concern over Israeli plans to build another 8,000 settlements in the occupied West Bank, saying the move "consolidates the territorial basis for Israel, the occupying power, to make a sovereign claim to annex the settlements." 

Israeli incitement against Palestinians is reaching unprecedented levels. While it lobbies countries to take a stance against the ICC, Israel is also successfully preparing for when the international community transitions from insisting upon a two-state compromise to openly defending the colonial project in Palestine. 

Countries supporting Israel against the ICC, like Canada, are seeking to undermine the ICC's stipulation that settlement expansion is a war crime. Indeed, Israel has been warned that the settlements constitute the biggest threat at The Hague. However, there is intricate backing for settlement expansion that precedes 1967, and the current Israeli government's plans. 

Scrutiny, therefore, must also be directed at the UN - the institution that mocks international law and the Palestinian people.

To support Israel at the ICC while pretending to back Palestinians at the UN is a charade which must be exposed. The ICC is only investigating Israel's war crimes since 2014, but the international role in Israel's impunity must not be forgotten. 

Ramona Wadi is an independent researcher, freelance journalist, book reviewer and blogger specialising in the struggle for memory in Chile and Palestine, colonial violence and the manipulation of international law.

Follow her on Twitter: @walzerscent

Opinions expressed in this article remain those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of The New Arab, its editorial board or staff.