PA Criticizes Canada for Boycotting UN Conference

PA diplomat in Canada says Ottawa should not have boycotted a conference on the Fourth Geneva Convention.

Ben Ariel, Canada ,

Harper with Netanyahu
Harper with Netanyahu
Flash 90

The Palestinian Authority (PA) is upset with Canada for boycotting this week’s conference in Geneva which dealt with “respect for international humanitarian law in the PA assigned territories”.

On Friday, the top PA diplomat in Canada said Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s government should not have boycotted the conference which, as expected, harshly criticized Israel over its construction in Judea, Samaria, and eastern Jerusalem which the PA wants for its future state.

According to The Canadian Press, the diplomat, Said Hamad, said Canada should have joined other countries at the conference which examined the Fourth Geneva Convention.

Some 126 countries of the 196 international parties to the convention adopted a resolution Wednesday saying Israel’s “construction of settlements” does not conform to its international legal obligations as “an occupying power.”

Along with Israel and the United States, Canada boycotted the conference. Canada’s Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird said in a statement before the conference that “Canada has conveyed its deep concerns and has communicated clearly that it will neither attend this conference nor lend it any credibility.”

“Canada is deeply disappointed by the convening of this one-sided and politicized conference, which serves only to single out one country, Israel, for criticism,” added Baird.

In a written statement on Friday, Hamad said, “We had hoped Canada would participate in this conference, given its long-standing policy that ‘Israeli settlements in the occupied territories are a violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention. The settlements also constitute a serious obstacle to achieving a comprehensive, just and lasting peace.’”

“We urge all countries absent from the conference to rejoin the international community’s efforts to enforce the rule of law,” said Hamad, who was quoting from Canada’s written foreign policy, posted on the Foreign Affairs Department website.

Hamad did not respond to a request from The Canadian Press for an interview.

Switzerland said last week it would push ahead with the conference despite an expected boycott from Israel and the United States.

Swiss President Didier Burkhalter told local media he expected "very large participation" in the conference and that consultations had been ongoing for weeks, adding, "Our objective is to advance the cause of international humanitarian law.”

"Even if Israel and the United States boycott the meeting, the international community must speak on the issue. There is no denigration of Israel planned" from Switzerland, he said.

The Fourth Geneva Convention, adopted in 1949, deals with the protection of civilian populations residing in areas of armed conflict or military occupations. The treaty forbids harming civilians and decrees that the occupying power must uphold the human rights of the civilian population.

While Israel is party to the convention, the Knesset has never legislated the treaty into Israeli law. Israel does not consider the treaty applicable to Judea and Samaria, as well as any part of Jerusalem, for it considers these areas to be "disputed," and not under so-called occupation.

Israel, the United States, Canada, and Australia were attempting several weeks ago to dissuade nearly 200 states that make up the Fourth Geneva Convention from convening the special session.

Canada’s boycott of the conference is another reflection of Harper’s longstanding staunch support for Israel.

In January, Harper visited Israel for the first time since becoming Prime Minister. During the visit, he gave a speech in the Knesset and also showcased his musical talent during a special dinner with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu.

(Arutz Sheva’s North American desk is keeping you updated until the start of Shabbat in New York. The time posted automatically on all Arutz Sheva articles, however, is Israeli time.)