Canadian Foreign Minister John Baird
Canadian Foreign Minister John BairdReuters

Canada reiterated on Tuesday that it will not attend Wednesday’s anti-Israel conference in Switzerland, which will deal with “respect for international humanitarian law in the Palestinian Authority’s (PA) assigned territories”.

In a statement, Canada’s Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird said, “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,” said Baird.

“Canada has complete faith in the strength of the rule of law in Israel, and we believe the Israelis are capable of investigating matters surrounding the events that took place in Gaza in the summer of 2014,” he added.

“This conference risks undermining the integrity and credibility of the Geneva Conventions and the neutrality of their application.”

“Such a misguided approach will neither serve the cause of peace nor bring the parties closer to a negotiated settlement,” concluded the Canadian Foreign Minister.

Switzerland said last week it was pushing 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.

The conference will have few speeches and no media coverage except for a statement to the press to be released only at the end of the meeting.