Canada appeases Trump in UN vote on Israel’s capital

The Trudeau government and a few CARICOM countries abandoned their principled position on a negotiated settlement of the Palestinian aspiration to full and meaningful independence.

Up until a crucial vote at the United Nations General Assembly last week, Canada had fully supported this Palestinian aspiration as a major component of the two-state solution (for both Palestine and Israel) of this major issue in the Arab/Israeli conflict.

When Canada abstained in that vote on a General Assembly resolution that overwhelmingly condemned the American recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of the State of Israel, it was one of 65 countries that either stayed away, abstained or voted in support of the USA move.

In that change of its position, the government of Prime Minister Trudeau must have been guided by considerations of political expediency, economic interests and electoral survival.

In giving priority to those three factors, Trudeau found it politically expedient to avoid irritating the ultra-volatile and easily offended American President. He must have been concerned about the wide range of bilateral and multi-lateral issues in which he would need to have American support. Canada’s candidacy for a seat on the UN Security Council, for example, would be dead in the water if the American government were to oppose it.

Similarly, a reasonably balanced re-negotiation of NAFTA among the USA, Canada and Mexico is one of the many economic and commercial priorities on the Trudeau government’s international agenda.

There is also the important matter of Trudeau’s re-election to a second term in the next federal election. Re-election would become a very difficult proposition for Trudeau’s Liberal Party without the support of Canada’s Jewish community that includes many wealthy and influential pro-Israeli financiers.

It is therefore quite possible that Trudeau was not so much swayed by the bullying tactics of President Trump and his Ambassador to the UN, Ms. Nickki Haley. He may have acted primarily in what he deemed to be his and his country’s self-interest.

On the other hand, those openly threatening tactics must have weighed heavily on most of the 65 countries that opted not to join the massive majority of UN members that voted for the resolution condemning the American recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. Perhaps they might receive some tangible economic rewards for their loyalty to the American cause.

In that regard, it is interesting to compare and contrast the voting pattern among CARICOM member countries in this sensitive case. Normally, it would have been expected that all CARICOM states at the UN would vote for the resolution, and therefore against the Americans.

However, only Barbados, Belize, Dominica, Grenada, Guyana, St. Vincent & the Grenadines and Suriname stood their ground, in defiance of the Trump administration.

In the other camp, the CARICOM countries which abstained were Antigua and Barbuda, The Bahamas, Trinidad and Tobago, Haiti and Jamaica. St Kits & Nevis as well as St. Lucia were absent from the voting process.

The reasons for that internal division of CARICOM states remain unclear. One wonders as to what effects this will have on the region’s future ability to adopt a joint position on Foreign Policy issues.

All things considered, there are certain principles that have been enshrined in the United Nations for several decades. These include the inherent right of the Palestine People to full statehood within defined and internationally recognized borders; the pursuit of a negotiated and mutually acceptable arrangement for both Palestine and Israel to co-exist as independent states; and the negotiation of appropriate arrangements for access to and enjoyment of the multi-religious City of Jerusalem for the various faiths with holy sites located there.

On that basis, resounding congratulations are in order for the firm stand maintained by Barbados, Belize, Dominica, Grenada, Guyana, St. Vincent & the Grenadines and Suriname.