Open letter to Chrystia Freeland on Israel “regularization bill”

The Canadian BDS Coaliton coordinated the following open letter to Minister of Foreign Affairs Chrystia Freeland on the passage of Israel’s so-called Regularization Bill.

March 20, 2017

The Honourable Chrystia Freeland
Minister of Foreign Affairs,
House of Commons,
Ottawa K1A 0A6

Dear Minister Freeland:

We come together to express our grave concern regarding actions taken by the government of Israel since the passage of UN Security Council Resolution 2334, and to call the Canadian government to take a strong stance against the Israeli government’s flagrant disregard of its responsibility as an occupying power under the Fourth Geneva Convention.

The February 6, 2017 passing by the Knesset of the Regularization Bill shows utter disdain of the Security Council and for International Human Rights and Humanitarian Laws. This legislation allows for retroactive expropriation of private Palestinian land, resulting in the legalization of over 4,000 settler homes, along with the ability to seize privately owned Palestinian land for the creation of new, and/or expansion of, existing illegal settlements.

Human Rights Watch immediately condemned the February 6, 2017 Knesset decision, indicating the Bill “undoes years of established Israeli law. This taking place just weeks after the United Nation Security Council’s unanimous passage of Resolution 2334 on the illegality of settlements reflects Israel’s disregard of international law. Human Rights Watch also indicates this “entrenches the current reality in the West Bank of de facto permanent occupation where Israeli settlers and Palestinians living in the same territory are subject to ‘separate and unequal’ systems of laws, rules and services.”

B’Tselem, The Israeli Information Center for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories indicated on February 6, 2017, the day the legislation passed that: “the law passed by the Knesset today proves yet again that Israel has no intention of ending its control over the Palestinians or its theft of their land. Lending a semblance of legality to this ongoing act of plunder is a disgrace for the state and its legislature. Passing the bill mere weeks after UN Security Council Resolution 2334 is a slap in the face of the international community. While enshrining the dispossession in law is a new development, in practice it is another facet of the massive land grab carried out openly for decades by declaring “state land.”

The legal advocacy group Adalah indicated they will challenge the law in the Israeli high court saying: “This sweeping and dangerous law permits the expropriation of vast tracts of private Palestinian land, giving absolute preference to the political interests of Israel as an occupying power and to Israeli settlers.”

In fact, Israel’s attorney general Avichai Mendelblit has said he won’t defend the law in the high court, calling it unconstitutional and illegal under international law.

It seems obvious that the Israeli government has no intention of following the advice of credible Israeli and international human rights voices, nor of following international law or living up to its obligations under the Fourth Geneva Convention. It then is up to other international governments to hold Israel accountable for its actions.

In this regard, the Canadian government policy concurs that Israel’s settlements violate Article 49 of the Fourth Geneva Convention and are a serious obstacle to peace. Over a decade ago, the International Court of Justice held unanimously – with the concurrence of a United States judge – that the settlements violate the convention.

In December of last year, the UN Security Council declared unanimously that the settlements are a “flagrant” violation of international law. Canada’s allies France, Britain and New Zealand all supported the Security Council resolution. Further, under article 1 of the Fourth Geneva Convention, Canada has an obligation not only to respect the Convention but to ensure respect for the Convention “in all circumstances.”

We call on Canada to ensure respect for the Convention in all circumstances and to hold Israel accountable for its flagrant violation of international law.

We look forward to your response.

Respectively signed by the following organizations:

Coalition Against Israeli Apartheid, Victoria
People for Peace, London
Palestinian and Jewish Unity (PAJU), Montreal
Canada Palestine Association, Vancouver
Canadian Unitarians for Social Justice (CUSJ)
Actions for Palestine, Toronto
Palestine Solidarity Network – Edmonton
Canadian Unitarians for Social Justice
Peace and Justice in the Middle East Committee, Victoria
First Unitarian Church of Victoria
United Network for Peace and Justice in Palestine and Israel (UNJPPI)
Palestinian Solidarity Working Group-Sudbury
Solidarity with Palestine, St. John’s, Newfoundland
Christian Peacemaker Teams- Ontario
Independent Jewish Voices-Toronto
University of Ontario Institute of Technology (UOIT) & Durham College Students for Justice for
Barnard-Boecker Centre Foundations (BBCF), Victoria
Palestine Solidarity Network-Edmonton
Justice for Palestinians, Calgary

Coordinated by the Canadian BDS Coalition

Copies provided by email to:

The Right Honourable Justin Trudeau, Prime Minister of Canada
The Honourable Peter Kent, Foreign Affairs Critic, Conservative Party of Canada
Hélène Laverdière, Foreign Affairs Critic, New Democratic Party
Elizabeth May, Leader, Green Party of Canada
Rhéal Fortin, Leader, Bloc Québécois

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