A Canadian Jewish human rights group is condemning the Harper government’s opposition to giving Palestine non-member observer state status at the United Nations. In a vote taken this week by the General Assembly, 138 countries voted to grant Palestine this status.

“Once again the Harper government has embarrassed Canadians on the world stage, rendering itself not only useless but dangerous on the question of peace in the region,” explained Independent Jewish Voices – Canada spokesperson Sid Shniad.

“Two years ago, Canada failed — for the first time ever — to obtain a seat on the UN Security Council. That failure was seen as an implicit reprimand for the Harper government’s oft-declared disdain for the UN as well as its unquestioning support for any and everything the Israeli government does,” Shniad continued. “Not only are we failing to promote peace in the Middle East; Canada is alienating the entire world by supporting Israel right or wrong.”

“The United Nations vote shows that the world is increasingly uncomfortable with Israel’s actions,” he maintained. “But Israel remains intransigent. Instead of heeding to the message contained in the vote, it responded with the arrogant announcement that it is commencing construction on 3,000 new illegal settlement housing units in Palestinian East Jerusalem and the West Bank.”

“While Israel’s military strength is tremendous, the vote at the UN indicates that both its diplomatic and its moral strength are waning,” said Shniad, pointing to Israel’s failure to garner the support of more than nine countries to vote against Palestinian recognition. Joining Canada, the U.S and Israel in voting ‘no’ were the Czech Republic, the Marshall Islands, Micronesia, Nauru, Palau and Panama.

“Fourteen European Union countries voted in favour of the Palestinian initiative. Countries which could formerly be counted as strong supporters of Israel — including the United Kingdom, Australia, Italy, and New Zealand — either voted yes or abstained,” Shniad noted.

“Moreover, the Israeli decision to ramp up its illegal settlement construction, announced immediately after the UN vote, is generating unprecedented condemnation from the world community. France and Britain are talking about recalling their ambassadors to Israel over this. Even the United States has denounced the new building campaign,” he stressed.

“Canada is pursuing a uniquely reckless and intemperate approach in all this,” noting the Harper government’s deafening silence in the face of the announcement of the new Israeli settlements and its threat to slash its aid to Palestine. “Both Ottawa and Tel Aviv would be well advised to pay attention to these unprecedented developments on the world stage,” Shniad concluded.

Independent Jewish Voices – Canada is a national organization that promotes a just resolution to the conflict in Israel and Palestine through the application of international law and respect for the human rights of all parties. IJV has chapters in Halifax, Montreal, Ottawa, Toronto, Hamilton, Winnipeg, Vancouver and Victoria.