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Canadian Parliamentarians release report on Palestine trip

17
Jul

A delegation of 18 Canadian parliamentarians, led by MP Marwan Tabbara (Lib. Kitchener South – Hespeler), spent 6 intensive days visiting Israel/Palestine in April 2018. The official report of their trip has just been released and makes for interesting reading. It seems they were quite disturbed by what they saw/heard. 
For the first time ever, a large group of Canadian parliamentarians took a trip to Israel/Palestine not sponsored by the Israel lobby. In fact, the group was funded by generous members of the Palestinian Canadian community.
The group spent 6 intensive days meeting both Palestinians and Israelis. It was clear that many members of the group were quite profoundly disturbed by what they saw and heard. In an emotional joint press conference with Alexandre Boulerice and Mario Beaulieu following their return to Ottawa, an obviously upset Elizabeth May criticized Israel’s “project of expansion and colonialism” in the West Bank.
There is little doubt that their first hand experience in Israel/Palestine also encouraged Liberal MP’s Marwan Tabbara and Robert Falcon-Ouellet to personally deliver a petition to Prime Minister Trudeau asking him to be more forceful in condemning Israeli violence in Gaza.

Official report – muted,  but still critical of Israel… and of Canadian inaction

The official report of the group, signed by 15 of the 18 participants has now been made public.
The consensus report is very careful in its language but still reflects the concerns of the delegation both about what they saw on the ground in Israel/Palestine and about what they feel is inadequate action by the Canadian government. The visit, and the report, is likely to have a positive effect on how the issue is approached in Parliamentary debate.

Some of the highlights of their 6 day visit mentioned in the report are:

  • A visit to Hebron where Israeli authorities would not allow them to visit Abraham’s tomb
  • A meeting with the father of imprisoned Palestinian teenager Ahed Tamimi
  • Seeing first hand the expansion of illegal Israeli settlements in the West Bank
  • A visit to the “Walled off Hotel” in Bethlehem which directly faces Israel’s 8 metre high “separation barrier” which prevents Palestinians from accessing Jerusalem and other areas of the West Bank
  • A visit to the Bedouin community of Abu Nuwaar under imminent threat of expulsion by Israel
  • A meeting with the Palestinian Red Crescent society to talk about the human rights abuses of children at the hands of the Israeli military.
  • A meeting with “Breaking the Silence” an organization of former Israeli soldiers who are now critical of the occupation
  • A meeting with representatives of the Popular Committee of the Jalazoun Refugee Camp

Among the report’s recommendations…

  • Canada should appoint a special envoy to “monitor and report on the human rights situation of Palestinian children”
  • Canada should hold Israeli military authorities accountable to their obligations under international human rights law
  • Canada should continue and increase financial support to UNRWA, the Palestinian refugee agency
  • Canada should deploy efforts to halt Israeli settlement construction

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