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May 13th, 2020

NDP calls on Liberals to come clean on ICC and position on Palestine

ST. JOHN’S – New Democrat Foreign Affairs critic, Jack Harris (St. John’s East) is calling on the Liberal government to answer allegations that it has tried to bully the International Criminal Court (ICC) on the issue of Palestine and to call out the incoming Israeli government’s plan to annex parts of the West Bank.

“An international organization has expressed concern about a letter sent from the Canadian government to the ICC that states Canada’s opposition to the jurisdiction of the ICC to investigate allegations of war crimes by Israeli forces and Hamas in the Occupied Territories and Gaza and reportedly includes references to Canada’s monetary contributions to the ICC,” said Harris. “Amnesty International states that the letter appears to be a threat to withdraw financial support from the court.”

On May 1, Harris wrote Foreign Affairs Minister François-Philippe Champagne, saying it “is unthinkable” to allow such charges to go unanswered given the standing of the ICC and the importance of its independence. There has been no response to date.

Harris noted that the ICC is an important international legal institution, in the creation of which Canada played a crucial role. It must be free to make decisions based on the law, not on statements of objection. If Canada had legal objections, it could have intervened and made formal legal representations.

Far from making statements in secret letters, Canada must take clear positions on the world stage, including immediately stating strong opposition to any plan to annex lands occupied by Israel since the 1967 Arab-Israeli War.

“Despite Canada’s official position on a two-state solution for Israel and Palestine, the Liberal government has done little to advance the cause,” said Harris. “Now that the incoming government of Israel has committed to a plan to annex lands in the occupied territories, Canada must speak out and condemn such action. It would be a clear violation of international law and the Geneva Convention to which Canada is Party. It would also go contrary to numerous United Nations Resolutions passed by an overwhelming number of countries.”

Other nations, including the U.K., Norway, Ireland and France have made strong declarations, citing that such annexation would be a clear violation of international law.

“Everyone knows that such a move by Israel would make the prospects for peace in the Middle East ever more difficult,” said Harris. “Canada must be on the side of right in this issue. If we hope to play a meaningful leadership role in the modern world, we must stand with the nations of the world to uphold international law.”