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UNHRC Resolution on Conflict in Gaza

Honourable senators, on January 12, 2009, the 47-member United Nations Human Rights Council passed a resolution on the conflict in Gaza by a vote of 33 to 1. There were 13 abstentions.

The resolution, which was drafted by some Arab, Asian and African countries, strongly condemned Israel for its military operations in Gaza, but it failed to adequately acknowledge the rocket attacks on Israel that precipitated the conflict — rocket attacks by Hamas and its allies that have been taking place there daily since 2001. These rocket attacks against Israeli civilians over the last eight years are estimated by some to exceed 10,000.

How unbalanced was the resolution? In a United Nations press release, the resolution:

. . . demanded the occupying power, Israel, to immediately withdraw its military forces from Gaza. The Council also decided to dispatch an urgent independent fact-finding mission to investigate all violations of international human rights law and international humanitarian law by the occupying power against the Palestinian people throughout the Occupied Palestinian Territory.

. . . the Council called for the immediate cessation of Israeli military attacks throughout the Palestinian Occupied Territory and called upon the occupying power to end its occupation to all Palestinian lands occupied since 1967, and to respect its commitment within the peace process towards the establishment of the independent sovereign Palestinian state with east Jerusalem as its capital. The Council also demanded that the occupying power stop the targeting of civilians and medical facilities and staff as well as the systematic destruction of cultural heritage. It demanded further that the occupying power lift the siege and open all borders.

Honourable senators, the only member of the UN Human Rights Council to vote against this one-sided resolution was Canada. The European members abstained; and not only did Canada vote no, it asked that the vote be recorded to ensure that there was no mistaking its opposition.

I congratulate the Canadian government and, in particular, the leadership of Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Minister Lawrence Cannon for taking such a courageous and just stand by voting against this resolution.