We commend the Canadian government for sending a message on the urgent need to save the two-state solution through its recent UN vote on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Reversing a decade-long voting pattern, on November 19 Canada supported a UN motion on the right of the Palestinians to self-determination. The resolution makes clear reference to the two-state solution, the right of all states in the region to live in peace within secure and internationally recognized borders and the principle of trading land for peace. Therefore, in this document, self-determination for Palestinians has its limits. It is not about claiming all of historic Palestine or de-legitimizing the existence of the State of Israel. 

The resolution does have flaws. It does not acknowledge the need for a negotiated settlement. It suggests that all that’s needed for peace to break out is for Israel to withdraw to pre-1967 borders, which is far from the case. Good-faith negotiations, trust building and compromise from both sides is required, and the Palestinians must play their part, as must the Israelis. Blueprint peace plans which have garnered widespread support in the past have proposed border adjustments and land swaps as part of a comprehensive package. In its call for “the preservation of the territorial… integrity of all of the Occupied Palestinian Territory,” the current UN motion disregards progress made in the past, or that could be made in the future, towards a workable agreement. 

Canada’s surprise support for this motion comes on the heels of another surprising reversal, this one from the U.S. administration, which has just changed its view of Jewish settlements in the West Bank. They are not illegal, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo declared on November 18, giving the green light for further unbridled settlement expansion. It was this move that prompted Canada the next day to change course, according to a Global Affairs official referenced by the CBC. The official told CBC the vote sends a message that Canada does not agree with Pompeo’s assertion.  

Canada’s message is much needed. Settlements impede the possibility of a viable future Palestinian state and the two-state solution. Settlement growth is indeed a huge obstacle to peace. 

Canadian Friends of Peace Now is a progressive Zionist organization supporting the Peace Now movement in Israel.