Canada Among 35 Abstaining From UN Vote Condemning American Embassy Move to Jerusalem

Photo: Justin Trudeau/Facebook
Canada was one of 35 countries that abstained from a vote Thursday morning during which members of the United Nations overwhelmingly condemned the decision by U.S. President Donald Trump to move the American embassy in Israel to Jerusalem.

“Canada is strongly 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’s longstanding position is that the status of Jerusalem can be resolved only as part of a general settlement of the Israeli-Palestinian dispute. This has been the policy of consecutive governments, both Liberal and Conservative,” said Adam Austen, spokesperson for Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland.

“Canada continues to support building the conditions necessary for the parties to find a peaceful solution. We are disappointed that this resolution is one sided and does not advance prospects for peace to which we aspire, which is why we will abstain on today’s vote.”

 

At an emergency session of the United Nations General Assembly in New York, members of the international organization cast votes on a motion that represents a major global condemnation of Trump’s decision to move the embassy from Tel Aviv to the contested city of Jerusalem, which both Israel and the Palestinian people claim as their capital.

A total of 35 countries including Canada, Australia, Mexico and Argentina, abstained from the vote while nine voted against condemning the U.S.

In all, 128 countries voted in favour of the resolution to condemn the decision to move the American embassy to Jerusalem.

The decision by Canada to abstain was not unexpected but represents a delicate balance the Canadian government is trying to walk as it navigates between not irritating the Americans while NAFTA negotiations are ongoing and also not alienating the roughly 50 Arab states with the power to cast votes in a powerful bloc against Canada’s bid for a seat on the United Nations Security Council.

Wikipedia Commons/ Heiligendamm

Former prime minister Stephen Harper made a point of solidifying Canadian support for Israel at the United Nations, voting in concert with the U.S. and Israel at several major votes over the years.

The vote on Thursday, however, is likely to draw more attention for Canada as one of the handful of abstaining countries.

Nikki Haley, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, doubled down in her opening statement to the General Assembly ahead of the vote and repeated vows to yank American foreign aid from countries that vote to condemn the move.

“The decision does nothing to harm the peace process,” said Haley. “America will put our embassy in Jerusalem. that is what the American people want us to do and it is the right thing to do. No vote in the U.N. will make any difference on that.”