On Saturday, Dec. 3, at a meeting in Calgary, the Green Party of Canada (GPC) passed a resolution updating the party’s position on the Israel-Palestine conflict. It puts the entire onus for the conflict’s continuation on Israel, specifically on Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu.
“The possibility of a two-state solution is diminishing directly due to the Netanyahu government’s support for illegal expansion and increasingly brutal military occupation,” reads the Dec. 4 statement on the Green party’s website. “Even over 200 former members of Israeli Defence Forces (‘Security First’ [plan for West Bank, Gaza]) have decried the worsening security situation for Israelis and Palestinians – and laid the blame directly on Prime Minister Netanyahu’s policies. The former Israeli military officers have raised the alarm of a ‘humanitarian crisis in Gaza’ and the diminishing chances for a two-state solution.
“Clearly,” continues the statement, “Canada needs to do more to register with the Israeli government that flouting international law and threatening the security of its own people while violating the human rights of Palestinians is not acceptable. In doing so, Canada must continue to condemn violence from the militant elements of Palestinian society.”
While rejecting the boycott, divestment and sanction movement – as its goals “do not include supporting the right of the state of Israel to exist” and are “incompatible with Green party policy”– the addendum to the party’s policy “is based on clear differentiation between ‘legal’ Israel, as within the 1967 borders, a democracy respecting the rights of citizens of all ethnicities within its borders, and ‘illegal’ Israel – the occupied territories beyond Israel’s legal borders. The Palestinian civilians within the occupied territories are subjected to virtual continual abuses of their human rights. The occupied territories are maintained under a brutal military occupation. Products from illegal Israel should not be granted the preferred trading status of products of legal Israel.”
With this in mind, the Green party would like to see the Canada-Israel Free Trade Agreement renegotiated, the “termination and indefinite suspension of all military and surveillance trade and cooperation” between Canada and Israel, and the repeal of “the House of Commons resolution condemning the BDS movement.”
According to the Dec. 3 article “Greens vote for new Israel policy without BDS” by James Munson on ipolitics.ca, “Approximately  members voted on the ‘compromise’ resolution that purged the party’s policies of any reference to the Palestinian-led boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement, which pressures companies, governments and institutions with ties to Israel.”
The article cites Green party president Ken Melamed as saying, “The party wanted to be careful not to align with a particular organization or movement. The essence of it, I think, is that the party feels that diplomatic approaches to achieving peace and justice in the Middle East have been ineffective and it’s time to move to economic actions.”
The article said that, according to Melamed, about 85% of those who voted at the meeting supported the resolution – others opposed or abstained – but that it still had to be voted on electronically by all 20,000 party members before it became official policy.
Shimon Koffler Fogel, chief executive officer of the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs (CIJA), condemned the resolution. In a Dec. 3 statement, he noted, “The new policy is rife with historical distortions and places the Green party at odds with the Canadian consensus that BDS is discriminatory and counter-productive to peace. The Ontario legislature just voted by a tenfold margin to reject the differential treatment of Israel, underscoring how out of touch the Green party has become.
“Elizabeth May and the party’s leadership have turned their backs on the mainstream Jewish community, including the many Jewish Greens who no longer feel welcome. Despite repeatedly flagging that the anti-Israel vote was scheduled to take place on the Jewish sabbath, senior Green party officials insisted on holding the vote today, thereby excluding many Jewish Green party members from voting. This is an alarming development and a stunning failure of leadership.”
The December resolution replaces a resolution that was passed at the Green party convention in August.
In the backgrounder to Fogel’s statement, CIJA notes, “The party’s decision to endorse economic penalties against Israel is incompatible with the wishes of the party’s grassroots. A survey of Green members conducted by the party after their convention revealed that, of 2,800 respondents, 28% agreed with the decision to support BDS, 44% wanted it repealed and 28% thought it should be amended to remove any reference to a specific movement or country.”
The backgrounder further explains, “The text’s exclusive recognition of Palestinians as ‘the indigenous people’ of the region implies that Jewish people have no ancestral or indigenous roots in Israel. This misleading suggestion contradicts millennia of archeological and documentary evidence.”
And, CIJA warns, “The one-sided nature of the resolution and its call for extreme measures against Israel puts the Green party outside the international consensus for achieving peace, which emphasizes the need for both parties to compromise and negotiate.”
Note: This article has been edited to reflect later reports that about 350 party members voted on the resolution, versus the number cited on ipolitics.ca, which was approximately 275.