Canadian Green leader may resign over BDS vote

Elizabeth May, the leader of Canada's Green Party, pondering resigning after members voted to support BDS.

Elad Benari ,

Canadian Green Party leader Elizabeth May
Canadian Green Party leader Elizabeth May

The leader of Canada's Green Party is pondering resigning after members voted to support the anti-Israel Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign, JTA reported on Wednesday.

In an interview with the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC), Elizabeth May said she is "struggling with the question of whether I should continue as leader or not, quite honestly," in the wake of the vote last weekend by rank-and-file Greens to support BDS.

The party voted on the resolution at its convention in Ottawa over the weekend, despite May's opposition to the measure.

The resolution states that the Green Party “supports the use of divestment, boycott and sanctions that are targeted to those sectors of Israel’s economy and society which profit from the ongoing occupation of the Occupied Palestinian Territories.”

It also states that the Green Party “will support such a form of BDS until such time as Israel implements a permanent ban on further settlement construction in the Occupied Palestinian Territories, and enters into good faith negotiations with representatives of the Palestinian people for the purpose of establishing a viable, contiguous and truly sovereign Palestinian state.”

May, who has condemned BDS as "polarizing, ineffective and unhelpful," told the CBC she's "quite certain most of our members don't support this policy, but weren't fully engaged in the consensus-building process we normally would have had."

"So if I can't find a way to bring that back and have the members review it with a consensus decision-making process, then I have to profoundly question whether I can continue as leader, and that's obviously heartbreaking," she added.

Ken Melamed, the Green Party’s federal council president, explained Monday that the vote to support BDS does not change the party's position on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

"I want to be clear. The (party) supports a two-state solution to the Israel-Palestine conflict and we continue to advocate for good-faith negotiations," Melamed wrote. "This support (for BDS) is intended to further advocate to that end."

May said the debate surrounding the vote was "very abbreviated" and left her "breathless because we actually never really properly debated this motion. I oppose it entirely, but it carried on the floor, although not overwhelmingly."

The BDS vote "does not mean I don't want to be free to criticize what's happening in the Middle East and to support Palestinian rights, I just think it's a large-scale error for a party as credible as the Green Party to attach itself to a movement that is outside of us," she also said.

Canada's Parliament voted to condemn the BDS movement last winter. May was absent for the vote.

May, who is the Green Party's only member of Parliament, said she would continue to represent her constituents until the next federal election, which is scheduled for 2019.