(No. 342 - November 10, 2011 - 12:20 p.m ET) Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird today issued the following statement:
“Canada today made a strong statement with nine votes at the United Nations.
“Our explanation of vote (EOV) speaks for itself.
“This series of resolutions against Israel is generally one-sided, unbalanced and does not address the complexities of the issues, nor seeks to address the true actions and responsibilities of all parties.
“While this does not signal a change in Canada’s long-standing policy regarding the Middle East Peace Process, it does clearly relay our frustration with the current UN process.
“Final status issues are to be resolved between the two parties, not the United Nations. We will continue to urge for the two parties to return to negotiations without preconditions.”
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“Canada’s position is long-standing and clear: we support a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict—one reached through a negotiated settlement between the parties that will guarantee Israel’s right to live in peace and security with its neighbours, and that will lead to the creation of a viable and independent Palestinian state.
“A negotiated agreement—agreed to by both parties—is the only means to a comprehensive, just and lasting peace. We believe that the September 23, 2011, statement by the Quartet on the Middle East provides a good basis on which to move forward.
“On the issue of both parties having a positive role to play in a lasting peace, Canada has long been concerned by the sheer number of United Nations resolutions critical solely of Israel.
“No other conflict area in the world draws even a fraction of the time and energy of member states—even though there are a number of long-standing and destabilizing conflicts that seem intractable.
“In addition, this series of resolutions against Israel is generally one-sided and does not address the complexities of the issues, nor does it seek to address the true actions and responsibilities of all parties.
“As a package, the resolutions are unbalanced, lack references to terrorist activities carried out by Hamas, Palestinian Islamic Jihad and others against Israel and are, thus, ultimately unhelpful to the cause of a lasting, negotiated peace.
“Rockets rain down on Israeli schools without condemnation in these resolutions.
“Israeli soldiers have been kidnapped and held without regard to international norms and standards. This, too, has not been reflected in resolutions over the years.
“There are important elements in these resolutions that need to be discussed, but they are drowned out by the unbalanced nature of the broad package of resolutions.
“As a result, Canada has made a decision, based upon its principled foreign policy, to vote no or to abstain on this package of General Assembly resolutions on the Middle East.
“Our problem is with the process.
“Canada’s long-standing position has not changed: we believe that Israel is bound by the Fourth Geneva Convention and must comply with its provisions.
“Canada will continue to support efforts for a negotiated solution and do what it can to help the parties achieve this.
“However, until there is a more balanced approach, Canada will continue to express its discontent with the process through votes like today’s.”