Earlier this month, Amnesty International published a crucial and detailed report on continuous Israeli violations against the Palestinian people. The report fully examines the structural and direct violence caused by the policies of the government of Israel. Amnesty International’s findings further solidify the calls to officially classify Israeli policies in the occupied Palestinian territory, including in East Jerusalem, as apartheid, in line with the definition of such a term under the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, to which Canada is a state party to, in addition to the International Convention on the Suppression and Punishment of the Crime of Apartheid.

Through its inhumane policies of segregation, forced dispossession of homes, racial- and religious-based exclusionary policies, extrajudicial killings, and the continued denial of the most inalienable of human rights, Israel continues to enforce an apartheid system upon the Palestinian people. The root cause of such policies is not only Israel’s never-ending illegal occupation of the Palestinian people, but also it is the product of the culture of impunity and the comprehensive immunity afforded to Israel by the international community, including Canada, that overlook any and all violations perpetrated by Israel against the Palestinian people.

Similar to Amnesty International, other major human rights groups and organizations have, over the past year, highlighted the apartheid reality enforced by Israel. For example, Human Rights Watch and B’Tselem, an Israeli human rights NGO, both reached the same outcome in their continued coverage of the situation on the ground: Israel is truly, by definition, an apartheid state. Thus, it falls upon the Canadian government to move past its approach of “neutrality” in cases of injustice and take concrete measures to put an end to the continued Israeli flouting of international and human rights law. Steps must be taken to ensure that the inalienable civil and human rights of the Palestinian people are preserved, respected, and facilitated by Israel, similar to Jewish Israelis who enjoy such privileges in Israel and in the illegal Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank.

Amnesty International’s report outlines several asks of governments around the world, and specifically, those governments that maintain close diplomatic relations with Israel, such as Canada. The report asks those governments to “recognize that Israel is committing the crime of apartheid […], and review any cooperation and activities with Israel to ensure that these do not contribute to maintaining the system of apartheid”, including, inter-alia, by implementing consequences should Israel maintain its apartheid system by ending arms trade with the Occupying Power and banning products from Israel’s illegal settlements located on stolen Palestinian lands in the West Bank.

Hikma encourages our elected representatives to read Amnesty International’s report (found here), respect the findings of the report, and acknowledge that Israel is committing the crime of apartheid, a major crime against humanity, as defined by the Fourth Geneva Convention and the International Criminal Court’s Rome Statute, both of which are legally binding treaties  to which Canada is a state party to, in addition to the 1907 Hague Regulations and the Convention on the Suppression and Punishment of the Crime of Apartheid. We ask Global Affairs Canada what steps the Government and GAC are taking to put a stop to continued Israeli violations and flouting of international law, including the possibility of implementing diplomatic and economic sanctions on Israel until it ends the well-documented, undeniable, draconian, and inhumane apartheid practices, as highlighted by major human rights groups.

Human rights law is not selective.  It cannot be disregarded for allies. Either we believe in the sanctity of life or we do not.  And if we do, it is the responsibility of the Government of Canada to protect the universality of human rights of everyone, especially Palestinians.  The historical “look the other way” foreign policy of Canada toward Israel has not brought us any closer to peace in the Middle East.  In fact, we are arguably further away now more than ever.  It is therefore time to end this destructive culture of impunity to the violations of international law and human rights law by the government of Israel.  

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