Hikma asks the federal government to take a principled stance on human rights for Palestinians as it has done elsewhere. In particular, we ask the government to:
- See to it that Canada takes the lead in building political capacity and architecture amongst Palestinians to alleviate the current power imbalance. For example, the destruction of media headquarters deprives Palestinians of the ability to share their stories of what is happening and is a direct attack on media freedom;
- Further, commit to and lead an international response for immediate and sustained humanitarian aid to the residents of the occupied territories where the infrastructure and health care facilities are on the brink of collapse or already there;
- Government media statements not only include the standard “Israel’s right to protect itself” but also an affirmation of the “Palestinians’ rights to self-determination”. By including this latter point the dialogue can be framed in a more equitable light. All media statements reaffirm Israel’s rights as mantra but as we’ve seen the Palestinian rights get buried in the ensuing paragraphs, if mentioned at all. If Canada is a truly balanced actor then both parties’ respective rights should be mentioned in the same sentence;
- The immediate stoppage of the sale of all arms/military technology to Israel until it complies with international law.
- The use of any and all diplomatic and economic levers to:
- Pressure Israel to stop their policy of forced evictions of Palestinians;
- Call on Israel to lift the crippling blockade on the occupied territories, Gaza in particular, to allow for the rebuilding of civilian infrastructure and improve the living conditions – eg. proper nutrition, water and medicine;
- Call for the international monitoring (including a Canadian contingent) of the lives of those under occupation who live with the daily reality of an occupation and who also now face unequal and disproportionate outcomes from COVID-19, including a lack of access to vaccinations;
- Suspension of Canada’s Free Trade Agreement with Israel until it complies with international law;
- An immediate investigation by the Parliamentary Subcommittee on International Human Rights of the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Development on the treatment of Palestinians in the occupied territories as was done in respect of the treatment of Uhyghur Muslims in China.
The status quo has not worked. It has failed to bring peace. It has failed to bring justice. It has failed to give Palestinians basic human rights. We cannot stand at the sidelines anymore, otherwise we become complicit in these human rights failures.