Tuesday, November 24, 2020

Canada’s free-trade agreement with Israel violates international law

By F.T Hupsel - June 10, 2019
Section: [Main News]
Tags: [trade and diplomatic relations]

Canada’s updated free-trade agreement with Israel, which does not discriminate against goods and services originating in illegal settlements, received royal assent on 27 May, the process by which a bill becomes part of Canadian law.

The new agreement allows goods and services produced in Israeli settlements to enter Canada on the same tariff-free terms as goods and services originating in Israel.

Canadian foreign policy has long identified the Israeli settlements as illegal under the Fourth Geneva Convention, which commits Canada to respect the obligations of the convention.

Special Rapporteur for the United Nations Human Rights Council on the situation in the Palestinian Territories, Professor S. Michael Lynk, stated the main issue around this new agreement revolves around the fact that no distinction is made between Israel and its illegal settlements.

“It lacks a human rights provision, which would commit both parties to uphold international human rights and humanitarian law,” said Lynk.

The free-trade pact thereby endorses the support for Israel’s settlement enterprise, which undermines any chances of peace negotiations progress.

According to the Canadian Jewish News, Lynk’s previous reports on the human rights situation in this matter have driven pro-Israel leaders to accuse him of being biased, in violation of the UN’s code of conduct for special rapporteurs.

In a 2017 report for the Middle East Eye, David Kattenburg, a Jewish-Canadian activist, had applied to the Federal Court of Canada for an order “declaring unlawful” the Canadian Food Inspection Agency’s (CFIA) directive.

The CFIA “ordered liquor stores across the province of Ontario to de-shelve two Israeli settlement wines that were being sold with the label '’Product of Israel’’ but less than 24 hours later, after succumbing to widespread public pressure from pro-Israel groups, the CFIA changed its mind.

Besides being contradictory to Canada’s general position, the new agreement violates both international and Canadian law, as well as the direction of the UN Security Council.

In 2016, The UN Human Rights Council, advised all states to certify that: “They are not taking actions that either recognise or assist the expansion of Israeli illegal settlements.’’

As the United Nations, Amnesty International and many other organisations have documented, the settlements are not just a legal question, they are the heart of the Israeli occupation.

They serve as the irrevocable reason to assert Israeli control over Palestinian self-determination, freedom of movement and resources.

Currently, more than 620,000 Israeli citizens reside in settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem among 3 million Palestinians.


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