Middle East Commentary (April 2013)

I have received several letters asking me to discuss my position on the Middle East.

I believe that, under Mr. Harper, Canada has abandoned our traditional role as an honest broker in the region, seeking to bring both sides to the table for constructive dialogue. We must reclaim that role. That requires engagement, not disengagement, with both sides.

I would have abstained from the UN vote on Palestine, rather than vote against it.  It was a purely symbolic vote that only served to distract from the peace process. The sanctions and disengagement advocated by the Harper government were inappropriate. A peaceful resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict will come at the negotiating table, and that is where our efforts should be focused.

Canada should pressure Israel to revisit its policy of settlement expansion, which is also counter-productive to the goal of a two-state solution.

As Canada pursues our own relationships with countries throughout the region concerning matters unrelated to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, we must remember that threats to Israel’s security only make the entire Middle East more insecure, and therefore, like our allies, Canada must be careful not to pursue policies that compromise that security.