UNSC passes ceasefire resolution and amended NDP motion makes history


Situation in Gaza as of 25 March 2024

  • 31,819 killed; 73,934 injured; 70,000 housing units destroyed; 1.7 million displaced. – OCHA
  • Gaza hunger figures “worst on record” says Oxfam.
  • UNRWA calls for lifting restrictions on access to northern Gaza, after the Israeli authorities informed the UN that they will no longer approve any UNRWA food convoys to northern Gaza.

NDP motion on Gaza war passes with significant amendments

This is clearly the intent of this government, to make sure that we follow what is written in this motion. And that is why we’ve worked very hard to make sure that we could get to a text where we could abide by it. – Foreign Minister Mélanie Joly

On the evening of 18 March 2024, the House of Commons voted on an amended version of the NDP motion we discussed in our 9 March post.

To summarize, the amended motion calls for the government to:

  • demand an immediate ceasefire and the release of all hostages
  • Cease the further authorization and transfer of arms exports to Israel
  • ensure continued funding to UNRWA
  • support the prosecution of all international law violations in the region
  • support the work of the ICJ and the ICC
  • demand unimpeded humanitarian access to Gaza
  • expand access to temporary resident visa program for Gaza
  • sanction extremist settlers
  • reaffirm the illegality of settlements [in OPT] and advocate for an end to the decades long occupation of the Palestinian territories;
  • work to pursue a comprehensive peace and the establishment of the State of Palestine as part of a negotiated two-state solution

The vote was Yes 204, No 117

The Conservatives and three Liberals voted against the amended motion. The Liberal Cabinet and the vast majority of Liberal MPs, together with the NDP, the Bloc Quebecois and the Green Party, voted for the amended motion.

Did the motion as adopted move Canadian policy forward? We offer a guarded YES.

There has been an avalanche of debate over the degree to which the amended motion represents substantive changes in Canadian policy on Israel/Palestine, and we will examine this extraordinarily important question in some detail.

NDP Foreign Affairs critic and lead negotiator for her party on the motion Heather McPherson told CBC what she believed had been achieved:

We can now hold the government accountable for a ceasefire, for access, for humanitarian care, to make sure Canadians in Gaza are able to come home, to make sure that arms are no longer being sent to Israel.

There was some policy movement before the vote on the NDP motion

Since January 8th, the government has not approved new arms export permits to Israel and this will continue until we can ensure full compliance with our export regime. – FM Joly

It is important to note that there were some moves by the Government of Canada in the time between the tabling of the NDP motion on 27 February and the vote on 18 March that responded to demands in the motion — notably the reinstatement of UNRWA funding announced on 8 March and certain limits, discussed below, on arms transfers to Israel, apparently enacted before the tabling of the motion but only reported in the media on 14 March 2024.

Both the Toronto Star and the CBC reported on 14 March 2024 that the Government of Canada had imposed the following restrictions on its arms exports to Israel:

GAC officials indicated that, while Ottawa continues to receive and review applications by Canadian companies for non-lethal shipments to Israel,

If the final destination is Israel, those applications are “pending” — basically in limbo — until there is some clarity about their use by Israel or if, for example, a prolonged ceasefire occurs.

Government insists no connection between lawsuit and policy changes

Government officials also insisted that the decision to halt shipments of all military goods and technology to Israel — whether lethal or non-lethal — had nothing to do with the lawsuit filed against it on 5 March by Canadian Lawyers for International Human Rights (CLAIHR), Al-Haq Law in the Service of Man — a Palestinian human rights organization — and several Canadians whose family members have been killed in Gaza. (See our 13 February 2024 post for more on this lawsuit.)

Amended motion on arms transfers

The original NDP wording had called on the government to “suspend all trade in military goods and technology with Israel,” which would have included imports from Israel not just exports from Canada.

The amended text as passed reads:

(b) cease the further authorization and transfer of arms exports to Israel to ensure compliance with Canada’s arms export regime and increase efforts to stop the illegal trade of arms, including to Hamas;

Confusion abounds about meaning of amended text

The NDP was emphatic in its understanding of the meaning of the amended text, with Foreign Affairs critic Heather McPherson telling the Globe and Mail:

We have been transparent about our expectations of the government to end all arms exports to Israel. This means all military goods and technology requiring an export permit.

The Globe and Mail further reported that

Ontario Liberal MP Chandra Arya said he believed it meant Canada would implement an arms embargo [arms export ban] with Israel, while B.C. MP Patrick Weiler said he thought it maintained the status quo policy not to approve new permits. Manitoba MP Ben Carr said he was hoping to get more clarity during the Liberal caucus meeting.

Groups in the Muslim community also believed the amended motion meant an arms export ban.

However, the Toronto Star reported on 19 March that Defence Minister Blair believed the wording likely excluded “existing contracts,” commenting:

There are a number of existing contracts that are already in place, but this was a going-forward basis, I think that’s how the minister’s looking at it.

Minister Joly’s office on 21 March told the Montreal Gazette that the measure to stop approving permits for Israel in early January out of human-rights concerns

goes beyond “arms” to include weapon technology and equipment.

In the meantime, according to the Gazette, Alexandre Lévêque, the Global Affairs Canada Assistant Deputy Minister whose regions include the Middle East, told the Senate Foreign Affairs Committee he wasn’t fully sure how the motion would affect military exports.

Impact on relationship with allies cited by GAC as reason for limiting scope of export ban

Global Affairs Canada did indicate, however, that the motion — contrary to its plain meaning — did not freeze arms transfers under existing permits as doing so “could hurt Canada’s relationship with other allies” as well as negatively impact interdependent supply chains.

The Rideau Institute was finally able to obtain a statement from the Foreign Minister’s office on 25 March which stated in part:

Export permits that were approved before January 8th remain in effect. Given the nature of the supply chain, suspending all open permits would have important implications for both Canada and its allies (i.e NATO and Five Eyes).

Ceasefire.ca comments:

Quite aside from the obvious fact that human rights concerns are relevant to all transfers of arms whether under existing or new permits, it is worth underlining that the Dutch Appeals Court specifically rejected arguments about possible impact on alliance relationships or supply chains, the only relevant consideration being the level of risk of violations of international law.

RI endorses statement by Project Ploughshares on Canada’s arms transfer policy

As past posts have made all too clear, obfuscation by the government on Canada’s actual arms export policy is the order of the day.

In response, Project Ploughshares, with whom RI closely coordinates on arms trade issues, has issued a statement which RI fully endorses, and which is available in PDF format HERE.

The statement deserves close attention and, except for the addition of headings, we have reproduced it below exactly as published by Project Ploughshares.

Canada decides to halt future arms exports to Israel

Project Ploughshares welcomes Canada’s decision to halt future arms exports to Israel, as legally obligated under domestic legislation and international law.

The decision follows a House of Commons motion of March 18, 2024, which included a directive for Canadian officials to “[c]ease the further authorization and transfer of arms exports to Israel to ensure compliance with Canada’s arms export regime and increase efforts to stop the illegal trade of arms, including to Hamas.” The motion passed with a vote of 204 to 117.

The substantial risk test

This is a positive step that brings Canada closer to compliance with its arms control obligations, which dictate that arms exports cannot be authorized when there is a substantial risk that they could be used by the end-user to commit serious human rights violations.

Canada’s decision does not cover existing export permits

At the same time, we lament that the new policy does not apply to export permits that have already been issued, and which Global Affairs Canada has the full authority to revoke. Canada’s decision to halt future arms exports is founded on a recognition of substantial risk of misuse, a risk that is equally applicable to extant arms export authorizations.

Ottawa approved nearly $30 million in arms transfers to Israel between October and December 2023 alone. The new directive continues to allow the transfer of these weapon systems to Israel along with any other permits that were authorized prior to January 8, 2024.

The transfer of military end-use parts to Israel via the United States also not prohibited

It also fails to address Canada’s transfer of military end-use parts and components to Israel via the United States, which remain unregulated and unreported.

Substantial risk threshold has clearly been crossed

Given Israel’s conduct during its ongoing operation in Gaza, which has been characterized by a blatant disregard for the most fundamental precepts of international humanitarian law – including the principles of distinction, precaution, and proportionality – the substantial risk threshold has clearly been crossed.

More than 31,000 Palestinians, most civilians, have been killed in the current conflict in Gaza. Credible human rights monitors, including UN experts, have stated that Israel has violated international humanitarian and human rights law throughout the conflict.

Project Ploughshares calls on Canada to live up to its positive vote on the 18 March motion

Project Ploughshares calls on the Government of Canada to act in good faith and take concrete action towards realizing all objectives of the motion passed on March 18, including through a presumption-of-denial policy on the further authorization of military exports to Israel, and an immediate cessation of previously authorized transfers.

RI President Peggy Mason comments:

FM Joly voted “to cease further authorizations and transfers of arms to Israel….” Ceasing “further transfers” on a plain reading of the words means all future transfers, not just those that are authorized under new export permit requests.

Canadian ban gives space for other Western countries to do the same

On the positive side, Canada’s ban on further arms transfers to Israel, however qualified, has extremely important implications for Western allies who tend to seek “like-minded” cover when making any changes to their respective policies on Israel/Palestine.

James Kafieh, vice-president of the Palestinian Canadian Congress, explains:

… Israel is in a full panic because this essentially gives permission for other western allies that have historically aided and abetted Israel to take similar action.

And that’s the beginning of censure, the beginning of holding Israel accountable to international laws.

Montreal-born Israeli Knesset member Dan Illouz, a member of the governing Likud party, appears to agree, having sent a letter to Minister Joly warning that the arms ban

sends a dangerous signal to the world.

Evan Dyer, in an incisive analysis entitled How the NDP’s motion on Israel could bring a profound shift in Canadian foreign policy (cbc.ca, 24 March 2024), notes that Canada’s action comes as Israel faces warnings from other governments that its access to their arms could be limited, writing:

British and Israeli media reported Friday that U.K. Foreign Minister David Cameron has ordered a review of Israel’s actions that could lead to a suspension of arms sales.

Alicia Kearns, chair of the U.K. Parliament’s foreign affairs committee, said a decision could come “within the week”.

In addition to UK concerns about a ground invasion of Rafah, UK Foreign Minister Lord Cameron has also warned Israeli officials that

an “arms embargo” could be declared in Europe if Israel continues to withhold [Red Cross] access to prisoners.

Colt Canada rifle contract raises questions

The Government of Canada has been at pains throughout all of the discussions and negotiations (inside Parliament and outside) regarding Canada’s weapons exports to Israel to say absolutely nothing about Canada’s unregulated and unreported transfer of military end-use parts and components to Israel via the United States.

This silence may prove impossible to maintain, however, in light of an Israeli order for 24,000 Armalite-style assault rifles, the bulk of which would be manufactured by the American manufacturer Colt with assistance from its Canadian subsidiary, Colt Canada.

Noting that protests over the sale have targeted both the main Colt plant in West Hartford, Conn., and the Canadian plant in Kitchener, Ontario, Dyer continues:

The U.S. State Department [has] demanded reassurances from Israel that the rifles would not be given out to civilians or settlers as part of a large gun-giveaway program under the auspices of Israel’s far-right National Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir, head of the Jewish Power Party.

CBC News asked Global Affairs Canada about the proposed sale but received no response.

Ceasefire.ca comments:

It is surely the height of irony that the US concerns about Israeli human rights abuses in the West Bank may well bring some long-overdue scrutiny to this heretofore virtually invisible aspect of Canada’s military exports to Israel.

Danish government now being sued over export of F-35 jet fighter parts to Israel

For several years, Danish authorities have allowed a total of 15 Danish companies to export components for F-35 fighter jets through a US-led defence cooperation [agreement] without conducting specific assessments of the risk of contributing to war crimes. The US sells the finished fighter jets to Israel.

Canada does the same.

There is a clear risk that weapons and military equipment that Denmark directly and indirectly exports to Israel will be used to commit serious crimes against civilians in Gaza. – Amnesty International Denmark

After uncovering information that Israeli F-35 fighter jets, including Danish components, have been used in bombardments in Gaza, several Danish human rights organizations and the Palestinian human rights organization Al-Haq are suing the Danish National Police and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to stop Danish arms exports to Israel.

Whither Canada?

We call on Canada to act in accordance with the spirit and the letter of the NDP motion passed in the House of Commons on 18 March 2024 and ban all military exports to Israel whether directly or via the United States.

Expert argues language in amended motion on ICC prosecutions highly significant

Aside from separating the wording into two paragraphs, the amended motion, as passed, contains language on the work of the International Criminal Court and the International Court of Justice identical to that in the original NDP motion:

(d) support the prosecution of all crimes and violations of international law committed in the region;

(e) support the work of the International Court of Justice and the International Criminal Court;

Since the launching by South Africa of its genocide case against Israel at the International Court of Justice, Canada has reiterated its support for the work of the ICJ on numerous occasions and, after much confusion, has confirmed that it has taken a “neutral” stance insofar as the premise of South Africa’s genocide case against Israel is concerned.

However, the amended motion also pledges Canada’s support for the work of the ICC and the prosecution of all crimes and international law violations in the region.

In the words of International Law Professor Mark Kersten of the University of the Fraser Valley:

There’s no statement from a senior government official ever that has said they would support the ICC in relation to the Palestinian situation.

In the past Canada has actively undermined the ICC’s role with respect to Palestine

As we have previously reported, the Government of Canada, to its shame, has actively worked behind the scenes first to derail Palestinian accession to the Rome Statute of the ICC and then to dissuade then-Prosecutor Bensouda from launching an investigation into alleged war crimes by Israel and Hamas.

Dyer adds:

The government has sent letters to ICC prosecutors warning them not to pursue cases against Israel or Israelis — while reminding them that Canada is one of the court’s major sources of funding.

McPherson agrees with Professor Kersten’s assessment, telling the CBC:

Our expectation, based on the motion the government supported, is a significantly changed approach to the International Criminal Court. This meaningful step forward brings Canada in step with international law.

Now the Liberal government can’t pick and choose when they’ll support the work of the court, and when they’ll interfere based on which countries are under investigation.

We need to move from legal impunity to legal accountability

the entire conflict [has been] under an umbrella of legal impunity – Professor Kersten

Evan Dyer summarizes Professor Kersten’s conclusion about the pernicious impact of Canadian policy, apparently intended to shield Israeli officials from legal accountability:

it also has the effect of opposing the prosecution of leaders of Hamas for their well-documented war crimes against Israelis — effectively placing the entire conflict under an umbrella of legal impunity that is the opposite of the rules-based international order the government says it supports.

As yet, Global Affairs Canada has not commented on the implications of this new language for Canadian policy on Israel/Palestine.

Ceasefire.ca comments:

While we welcome this apparent important change in policy, what really matters is Canada’s actions in accordance with those policy changes, beginning with much-needed increased voluntary funding to the ICC for its prosecution of war crimes and crimes against humanity in Israel and Palestine, as Canada has already done in the case of the ICC’s investigation in Ukraine.

On that very point, McPherson told Evan Dyer:

This cannot be an empty promise from the Liberal government. New Democrats will continue to do the hard work of holding this government’s feet to the fire. We’ll use the tools we have in committee and Parliament to ensure the government honours their commitment to this approach that respects the role of the ICC/ICJ.

Public advocacy will be essential to ensure Canada acts on the new policy

For his part, Professor Kersten said it’s the pressure applied after the fact that will determine how significant the change is on the ICC and the ICJ’s jurisdiction over the Israeli-Palestinian conflict:

I don’t think this motion changes the fact that they [the Liberals] do not want to act on that [support for ICC prosecution ]. And whether they do act on that will depend on whether their feet are held to the fire.

Call for official recognition of Palestinian state revised to accord with current policy

The original NDP motion called for the Government of Canada to

  • officially recognize the State of Palestine and maintain Canada’s recognition of Israel’s right to exist and to live in peace with its neighbours.

The amended motion as passed reads:

(j) work with international partners to actively pursue the goal of a comprehensive, just and lasting peace in the Middle East, including towards the establishment of the State of Palestine as part of a negotiated two-state solution, and maintain Canada’s position that Israel has a right to exist in peace and security with its neighbours.

Evan Dyer accurately describes the impact of this amendment:

As for Palestinian statehood, recognition was replaced with the language that has guided Canadian policy through decades of Liberal and Conservative governments — language that leaves it up to the two parties to negotiate a division of the land.

In this regard, we first recall a comment to the media by Heather McPherson after introducing her motion specifically focused on Palestinian statehood back on 13 February 2024:

I’ve never understood how the Liberals or the Conservatives can say that they believe in a two-state solution and not recognize two states.

Strong public support for official recognition

The Toronto Star reports that Emma Jackson, a spokesperson for the Palestine Solidarity Network, said the national group’s supporters had sent 45,000 messages and made thousands of phone calls to politicians supporting the initial text of the motion, making it clear that while “Parliament may not have voted for recognition of the State of Palestine,” many Canadians did.

Palestinian statehood already a reality for most of the world

The plain fact is that with 139 of the UN’s 193 member states already having officially recognized Palestine, with Palestine’s Observer State status at the UN, its status as a state party to the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, and its admission as a state into countless international organizations, beginning with UNESCO in 2012, it is already a state for all practical purposes, albeit one that is prevented from full governance of its UN Security Council sanctioned territorial boundaries by Israel’s ongoing occupation.

UK and US signal openness to official recognition

The real question, then, is when are Western countries going to recognize reality and grant official recognition? (Note that Iceland and Sweden officially recognize the state of Palestine, as do most Eastern European countries. Ireland has indicated its desire to move in tandem with the EU to this end.)

We have previously reported on moves by both the UK Foreign Minister and the US Secretary of State about possible formal recognition of Palestine as a step toward — rather than the result of — a negotiated two-state solution.

Time for Canada to move this policy constructively forward

We reiterate here the Ceasefire.ca statement made at the time of the introduction by Heather McPherson of Motion 113 on official recognition of Palestine, a motion that will keep this vital issue before Parliament:

Canada needs to support an early and irrevocable path to a viable two-state solution. That means immediate official recognition of Palestinian statehood. Continuing to give Israel a de facto veto over Palestinian statehood is a recipe for inaction. It plays to the most extreme elements of the Israeli government and polity.

We add now:

Canada should be doing everything it can to ensure Palestine’s ability to fully engage in a meaningful, equitable negotiation process towards a just and lasting two-state solution. That begins with official Western recognition of the state of Palestine.

UN Security Council passes ceasefire resolution – finally!

The UN Security Council on Monday, 25 March 2024, passed a resolution demanding an immediate ceasefire for the month of Ramadan leading to a lasting sustainable ceasefire, the immediate and unconditional release of hostages and the urgently needed expansion of the flow of aid into Gaza.

Sponsored by the 10 non-permanent members of the UN Security Council, the resolution received 14 votes in favour and one abstention — by the United States, with its Ambassador making clear the US “fully supports” the critical objectives of the resolution but could not vote in favour due to the lack of specific condemnation of Hamas (which was not acceptable to many states without a condemnation of Israeli atrocities).

Full text of UN Security Council Resolution 2728

The Security Council,

Guided by the purposes and principles of the Charter of the United Nations,

Recalling all of its relevant resolutions on the situation in the Middle East, including the Palestinian question,

Reiterating its demand that all parties comply with their obligations under international law, including international humanitarian law and international human rights law, and in this regard deploring all attacks against civilians and civilian objects, as well as all violence and hostilities against civilians, and all acts of terrorism, and recalling that the taking of hostages is prohibited under international law,

Expressing deep concern about the catastrophic humanitarian situation in the Gaza Strip,

Acknowledging the ongoing diplomatic efforts by Egypt, Qatar and the United States, aimed at reaching a cessation of hostilities, releasing the hostages and increasing the provision and distribution of humanitarian aid,

  1. Demands an immediate ceasefire for the month of Ramadan respected by all parties leading to a lasting sustainable ceasefire, and also demands the immediate and unconditional release of all hostages, as well as ensuring humanitarian access to address their medical and other humanitarian needs, and further demands that the parties comply with their obligations under international law in relation to all persons they detain;
  2. Emphasises the urgent need to expand the flow of humanitarian assistance to and reinforce the protection of civilians in the entire Gaza Strip and reiterates its demand for the lifting of all barriers to the provision of humanitarian assistance at scale, in line with international humanitarian law as well as resolutions 2712 (2023) and 2720 (2023);
  3. Decides to remain actively seized of the matter.

An earlier draft that had called for an immediate ceasefire for the month of Ramadan … leading to a “permanent,” rather than “lasting,” ceasefire was amended at the request of the United States.

Algeria’s UN Ambassador, the Arab representative on the council, thanked the council for “finally” demanding a ceasefire.

We look forward to the commitment and the compliance of the Israeli occupying power with this resolution, for them to put an end to the bloodbath without any conditions, to end the suffering of the Palestinian people.

It is the responsibility of the Security Council to ensure the implementation of the provisions of this resolution.

French Ambassador to the UN Nicolas de Riviere stated after the vote:

The Security Council’s silence on Gaza was becoming deafening. It is high time now for the council to finally contribute to finding a solution.

UK Ambassador to the UN Barbara Woodward stated:

We call for this resolution to be implemented immediately. …we need to focus on how we chart the way from an immediate humanitarian pause to a lasting, sustainable peace without a return to fighting.

UN Secretary-General says the resolution must be implemented

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres tweeted that

This resolution must be implemented. Failure would be unforgivable.

Human Rights Watch UN director Louis Charbonneau, for his part, reminded the US and other countries of the need to

use their leverage to end atrocities by suspending arms transfers to Israel.

Netanyahu cancels Israeli delegation visit to White House in retaliation for resolution’s passage

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu cancelled Strategic Affairs Minister Ron Dermer and National Security Adviser Tzachi Hanegbi’s meetings in the White House set for this week to discuss the Rafah operation after the US failed to veto the ceasefire resolution.

Netanyahu denounced the US abstention as “a retreat from the consistent American position since the beginning of the war,” which White House spokesman John F. Kirby denied.

Practical impact of Israel high-level visit cancellation may be limited

According to the New York Times, the practical impact of the cancelled high level visit may be limited since the Israeli PM has repeatedly stated that although he would hear out the White House position, the Rafah offensive would proceed.

Nonetheless, according to the article the cancellation

is still a sharp, public rebuke of Israel’s closest and most powerful ally.

Kirby underscored that Yoav Gallant, the Israeli defence minister, was in Washington and was still meeting with President Biden’s National Security Adviser, Jake Sullivan, on Monday, and would be meeting with Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken and Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III.

A ground invasion, especially without any type of credible plan, is a mistake given the large number of people, displaced people, that are there at the moment – General Ryder

Maj. Gen. Patrick Ryder, the Pentagon press secretary, reiterated the administration’s position that before going into Rafah, Israel must have a detailed plan to protect, shelter and feed the civilians there.

Hamas welcomes vote and is ready to engage in immediate prisoner swap

The Guardian reports that Hamas has “welcomed” the UN Security Council resolution and stands ready to engage in the release of hostages in exchange for Palestinian prisoners.

Successful passage of ceasefire resolution Monday follows failure of US resolution last week

On Friday, 22 March 2024, a five-page draft resolution from the United States stating the “imperative” for an immediate and sustained ceasefire was vetoed by Russia and China and voted against by Algeria, the only Arab member on the Council. Eleven countries voted in favour and Guyana abstained.

There were several serious problems with the resolution, eloquently explained by the Ambassador of Guyana to the UN, H.E. Carolyn Rodrigues-Birkett, beginning with the ceasefire language:

No actual call for a ceasefire, immediate or otherwise

First, contrary to media reports, this resolution does not call for an immediate ceasefire. Instead, we note that it “determines the imperative for a ceasefire” and calls for support for diplomatic efforts that are ongoing outside of the UN. While those efforts must be commended, given the responsibility and mandate of this Council, Guyana could not support a resolution that does not unequivocally call for an immediate ceasefire.

RI President Peggy Mason comments:

It is hard to overstate the unsuitability of the US language on the need for a ceasefire. It would be appropriate in the preamble to indicate the imperative for one, but it is the role of the Security Council in the operative paragraphs to call for, or better still, demand, the appropriate action in light of the circumstances outlined in the preamble. In short, having identified the overriding need for an immediate ceasefire, the US draft then failed to call for one.

Ceasefire linked to hostage release

Ambassador Rodriguez-Birkett continued:

Second, the demand for a ceasefire should not be linked to or conditioned on the release of hostages. The taking of hostages is strictly prohibited under international law and their release must be unconditional. Guyana reiterates its call for the immediate and unconditional release of all hostages. Two wrongs cannot make a right and the Palestinian people should not be collectively punished and themselves held hostage for the crimes of others.

Ceaefire.ca comments:

Note that it is this lack of linkage in the resolution that passed on Monday that so incensed Prime Minister Netanyahu, who has never accepted the basic premise that crimes by Hamas do not justify crimes by Israel.

No attribution or demands to Israel for what is taking place in Gaza

Third, in our view this text lacked attribution in a number of key areas. While the draft includes the condemnation of Hamas for the October 7th attacks and demands they immediately grant humanitarian access to the hostages, and rightfully so, there is no attribution or demands to the Israeli authorities for what is taking place in Gaza.

For example, who is responsible for 1.5 million Palestinians taking refuge in Rafah?

And who has announced a planned military ground offensive there? To whom is the demand for compliance with obligations under international law regarding the protection of civilians and civilian objects, humanitarian access, and the protection of humanitarian relief and medical personnel, their assets and infrastructure applicable?

….We know the answers to these questions….

Why then were the relevant demands in the resolution not clearly addressed to the occupying power? Not even once was this done.

US wording would make Security Council complicit in Gaza atrocities

Fourth, preambular paragraph 7 was of particular concern to Guyana. This Council is the organ with the Charter responsibility for addressing threats to peace, breaches of the peace and acts of aggression. How can we endorse the idea of “ongoing and future operations” in Gaza as long as measures are taken to “reduce significantly civilian harm?”

This idea was rejected by several delegations during the course of the negotiations. In Guyana’s view, this is in direct contravention of the Council’s responsibility. It would set a dangerous precedent and make the Council complicit in the atrocities being committed in Gaza now and in the future.

Resolution fails to affirm UNRWA’s vital role in Gaza

This Council has heard many times of the indispensability of UNRWA. It is the lifeline for Palestinians. We were, therefore, disappointed that the only mention of UNRWA in the draft pertained to the investigations into the allegations against a small number of its staff.

Guyana, supported by several delegations, had requested an affirmation of UNRWA’s important mandate in the text but this was not taken onboard.

For the full text of the statement by Ambassador Rodriguez-Birkett of Guyana, click HERE.

For an analysis by Trita Parsi of the Quincy Institute of further problems with this resolution, relating in particular to the US ceasefire negotiation strategy, click HERE.

Ceasefire.ca comments:

We have spent a considerable time on the manifold problems with the failed American draft resolution in order to shed further light on the inability of the Biden Administration to even remotely approximate a balanced approach to the Israel- Palestine issue.

This puts a premium on other Western countries beginning to play a more constructive and nuanced role in support of peace.

Geneva Conventions were the legal response to horrors of Holocaust

For a stirring reminder of the origin of the Geneva Conventions governing the conduct of war, see Jonathan Glazer on Gaza and the Holocaust: Jewish self-defense or universal rights? (Barnett R. Rubin, thenation.com, 19 March 2024).

Rubin writes:

But the founding of the State of Israel was not the sole international response to the Holocaust. At least equally important was the codification in international law of the crimes that constituted the Holocaust, including war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide.

Editor’s note: our next post will feature a full Ukraine update.

Whither Canada on the Gaza Conflict?

Canada has the means to impose real consequences on Israel. – Ceasefire.ca

As we have repeatedly emphasized, Israel will not change course without the prospect of real consequences for its grossly illegal conduct of the war in Gaza. Nor will it ever negotiate in good faith for a two-state solution in the absence of real and substantial costs for failing to do so.

We commend the Government of Canada on the steps it has taken to ban all transfers of military goods to Israel based on future permits but reiterate our call for the ban to also include transfers under existing permits as well as transfers to Israel via the United States.

We also call on Canada to demand that Israel and Hamas comply fully with the UN Security resolution passed on 25 March 2024, calling for

  • an immediate ceasefire, the unconditional release of hostages, immediate humanitarian access, compliance with international law and the removal of all barriers to humanitarian assistance.

We reiterate our call for the Government of Canada to:

  • call on Israel to abandon its ground invasion of Rafah.

To begin to create an irrevocable path toward a two-state solution, we reiterate our call on the Government of Canada to:

  • officially recognize the state of Palestine; and to
  • intervene in the ICJ case on Israeli’s occupation of Palestinian territories in support of a declaration by the Court that the occupation is illegal and should end forthwith.


Prime Minister Justin Trudeau: < justin.trudeau@parl.gc.ca  >

Foreign Minister Mélanie Joly: < melanie.joly@parl.gc.ca >; Parliamentary Secretary Rob Oliphant: < rob.oliphant@parl.gc.ca >

International Development Minister Ahmed Hussen: < ahmed.hussen@parl.gc.ca >

Leader of the NDP Jagmeet Singh: < Jagmeet.Singh@parl.gc.ca >; NDP Foreign Affairs critic Heather McPherson: < Heather.McPherson@parl.gc.ca >

Leader of the Conservative Party Pierre Poilievre: < pierre.poilievre@parl.gc.ca >; Conservative Foreign Affairs critic Michael Chong: < michael.chong@parl.gc.ca >

Leader of the Bloc Quebecois Yves-François Blanchet: < Yves-Francois.Blanchet@parl.gc.ca>

Green Party Critic Elizabeth May: < Elizabeth.May@parl.gc.ca >

And find your local Member of Parliament HERE.

Photo credit: UNICEF/Eyad El Baba (Gaza child); WHO(Rafah)

Ceasefire.ca is a public outreach project of the Rideau Institute linking Canadians working together for peace. We depend on your donations as we accept no funding from government or industry to protect our independence. Thank you for your support….


Tags: Ambassador of Guyana to the UN H.E. Carolyn Rodrigues-Birkett, Amended NDP Gaza motion, Canada and arms transfers to Israel, Colt Rifle Canada, Danish government, Foreign Minister Joly, Gaza, Geneva Conventions and Holocaust, Heather McPherson, Israel, official recognition of Palestinian state, Palestine, Professor Kersten, Project Ploughshares, Roshel armoured vehicles, substantial risk test, support for all prosecutions for war crimes in Middle East, support for ICC, support for ICJ, UN Security Council ceasefire resolution, UN Security Council Resolution 2728, UNRWA