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Defying pressure, Canada backs UN resolution on Palestinian self-determination

Canadian Prime Minster Justin Trudeau seen at a press conference in Berlin, Germany on February 17, 2017 [Michele Tantussi / Anadolu Agency]
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau seen at a press conference in Berlin, Germany on February 17, 2017 [Michele Tantussi / Anadolu Agency]

Canada voted in favour of a United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) resolution supporting the Palestinian right to self-determination yesterday, in a defeat for pro-Israel groups.

The General Assembly adopted the resolution by 167 votes to five, with 11 abstentions, with only Israel, the United States, in addition to US-dependent Pacific island states Marshall Islands, Micronesia and Nauru, voting against the text.

The resolution reaffirms "the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination, including to their independent State of Palestine", urging states and UN agencies "to continue to support and assist Palestinians in the early realization of their right to self-determination", stated the UN press release.

In Canada, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's administration had been under pressure from Israel and pro-Israel advocacy groups to vote "no", and those same groups reacted with outrage when Ottawa joined 166 other governments in affirming the Palestinian right to self-determination.

READ: Canada's latest UN stance fails to affirm commitment to Palestinians' political rights

As noted by CBC, "Canada regularly votes against or abstains on the 16 recurrent resolutions on Palestinian issues which go before the General Assembly every year, including on East Jerusalem, sovereignty over natural resources, and Israeli settlements."

This pattern "began in 2006 under former Conservative prime minister Stephen Harper", only for Canada to "abruptly" reverse course last month on "the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination" during a preliminary vote at committee stage.

Israel advocacy group "UN Watch" organised an online petition ahead of yesterday's vote, hoping Canada would vote "no" or at least abstain, while another pro-Israel group, B'nai Brith Canada, had also urged the Canadian government not to support the resolution.

"Although it was a slow process…I am delighted," said the Palestinian envoy to the UN, Riyad Mansour, as quoted by CBC, adding that the vote was "very significant, very positive".

Asia & AmericasCanadaInternational OrganisationsMiddle EastNewsPalestineUN
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