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441-00558 (Foreign affairs)

Paper petition

Original language of petition: English

PETITION TO THE HOUSE OF COMMONS

Whereas:

  • The Government of Israel's designation of six prominent Palestinian human rights and civil society groups as "terrorist organizations" on October 19, 2021, criminalizes the activities of legitimate civil society groups and authorizes Israeli authorities to close their offices, seize their assets, and arrest and jail their staff members;
  • The six prominent Palestinian human rights and civil society organizations are Addameer, AlHaq, Defense for Children International-Palestine, the Union of Agricultural Work Committees, the Bisan Center for Research and Development, and the Union of Palestinian Women Committees, which work directly with Palestinian women and girls, children, small land holding farmers, prisoners, and civil society activists, providing direct services and monitoring and exposing human rights abuses, including the ongoing expansion of settlements in violation of Canadian and international law;
  • 21 leading Israeli human rights groups issued a statement calling this a draconian measure that criminalizes critical human rights work;
  • United Nations human rights experts unequivocally condemned the decision declaring that the "designation is a frontal attack on the Palestinian human rights movement, and on human rights everywhere";
  • Canada's Voices at Risk Guidelines state the commitment of Canada and Canada's diplomatic missions to advocate for human rights defenders, "protecting them from harm,"; and
  • Antiterrorism legislation must not be used to unjustifiably undermine civil liberties or to curtail the legitimate work of human rights organizations and must be applied in a manner that is consistent with international law and does not violate obligations under international law.

We, the undersigned citizens and residents of Canada, call upon the House of Commons to:

  • Take concrete action against the Israeli occupation authorities' continued harassment and criminalization of Palestinian human rights defenders and civil society organizations by calling for full revocation of the designation;
  • Publicly call on Israeli authorities to immediately end efforts aimed at persecuting, delegitimizing, and criminalizing Palestinian human rights defenders and civil society organizations; and
  • Call on relevant Cabinet Ministers, policymakers, and Members of Parliament to meet with the six Palestinian organizations.

Response by the Minister of Foreign Affairs

Signed by (Minister or Parliamentary Secretary): Rob Oliphant

Canada is a steadfast friend and ally of Israel and friend of the Palestinian people. Canada also believes that both Israel and the Palestinian Authority must fully respect international human rights and humanitarian law, which is key to ensuring the protection of civilians, and can contribute to the creation of a climate conducive to achieving a just, lasting and comprehensive peace settlement. Canada is also committed to the goal of a comprehensive, just and lasting peace in the Middle East, including the creation of a Palestinian state living side by side in peace and security with Israel.

Canada rejects terrorism in all forms and takes all allegations of criminal activity, terrorism and violent extremism seriously. The Government of Canada has strong legal prohibitions against the support of terrorist groups and does not tolerate any misuse or diversion of assistance to support terrorism or terrorist entities listed in accordance with Canadian legislation, such as the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine.

Canada is following with concern the situation regarding Palestinian NGOs whose offices were raided by Israel, and we are in touch with Israel to seek further information on this matter. The protection of human rights is a priority for Canada, and civil society plays a critical role in this regard.

Canada provides substantial humanitarian assistance in the West Bank and Gaza. This includes projects that focus on: providing services and support to women-headed households (including women with disabilities and survivors of gender-based violence); improving food security and livelihoods; and providing water, sanitation, and hygiene activities and infrastructure.

Examples of recent commitments include: $18 million over two years for humanitarian needs; $90 million over three years to UNRWA to support Palestinian refugees in the region; and $25 million for urgent needs, recovery, and peacebuilding following the escalation of violence in May 2021. As of January 2022, $10 million had been allocated to UN agencies with proven track records of delivering assistance effectively and in accordance with Canadian requirements.

Presented to the House of Commons
Jenny Kwan (Vancouver East)
June 13, 2022 (Petition No. 441-00558)
Government response tabled
September 20, 2022
Photo - Jenny Kwan
Vancouver East
New Democratic Party Caucus
British Columbia

Only validated signatures are counted towards the total number of signatures.

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