Canada’s updated trade agreement with Israel violates international law, the UN Special Rapporteur for the [occupied] Palestinian territories, Professor S. Michael Lynk, has said in an article published by the Australian news site, The Conversation.
Commenting on legislation known as Bill C-85 – the Canada-Israel Free Trade Agreement Implementation Act – which received royal assent on Monday, Lynk said that it lacks “a human rights provision, which would commit both parties to uphold international human rights and humanitarian law.” The Act also allows goods and services originating on illegal Israeli settlements to enter Canada without any tariffs.These “glaring” omissions, said Lynk, not only violate international law but also Canadian law.
The article, which was co-written with Alex Neve, the Secretary General of Amnesty International Canada, explained that Canadian foreign policy and Ottawa’s own legislation “has long recognised the Israeli settlements as illegal under the Fourth Geneva Convention.”
According to the authors, “The 1957 Geneva Conventions Act commits Canada to respect the strict obligations of the convention, including the prohibition against civilian settlements in occupied territory. And the 2000 Crimes Against Humanity and War Crimes Act designates civilian settlements in occupied territory as a war crime.”
Clarifying their position further, they cite the UN Human Rights Council, which in 2016 urged all states to ensure that: “They are not taking actions that either recognise or assist the expansion of [Israeli] settlements… in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, including with regard to the issue of trading with settlements, consistent with their obligations under international law.”
They also cite a number of UN Resolutions, including Security Council Resolution 2334 which states that the Israeli settlements are “a flagrant violation under international law and a major obstacle to the achievement of a two-state solution and a just, lasting and comprehensive peace.”
Lynk pointed out that while Israel denies that it is an occupying power, there is in fact “a virtual wall-to-wall consensus among the international community – including the United Nations, the European Union, the International Court of Justice, the International Committee of the Red Cross and Canada – that the laws of occupation, including the Fourth Geneva Convention of 1949, apply in full to the Palestinian territory.”
The authors state that the Bill “makes no distinction between Israel and its illegal settlements in the Palestinian territory and it provides encouragement to the economic growth of the settlements by allowing their goods and services to enter Canada tariff-free.”
In conclusion, Lynk and Neve say that the Bill “entangles Canada in the serious violations of both international human rights and humanitarian law that are part and parcel of the Israeli occupation.”