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(photo credit: Courtesy)
Israeli officials and Canadian Jewish leaders welcomed Canada's decision to vote against three of the slew of anti-Israel resolutions annually voted on at the United Nations at the beginning of December.
Canada questioned the language of resolutions that "creates a sense of imbalance, and seems to suggest that it is only Israel that has obligations," as well as the use of "emotive and provocative language in place of the straight facts," in a speech given by Canada's deputy UN ambassador Gilbert Laurin at the UN last week.
He explained that Canada would be voting against three resolutions dealing with Israel, including one on the "peaceful settlement of the question of Palestine" for not including "a stronger and more unequivocal condemnation of suicide bombing," and another on the "Syrian Golan" for placing "the onus of responsibility for renewed negotiations on Israel only."
The negative votes came a year after Canada first decided to change its UN policy by voting against four similar resolutions, a move which came as part of a comprehensive review of its votes on Israel at the international body that the government had indicated it would undertake.
It joins the United States and a handful of other countries in its opposition to the 20 or so resolutions concerning the Israeli-Palestinian conflict renewed at this time of year. In the past, Canada generally abstained or even supported these resolutions, as Europe does.
"We view these changes favorably. We're thankful the Canadian government has rethought some of its attitudes," Foreign Ministry spokesman Mark Regev said, noting that at the UN generally countries have been "more attentive" to Israel's concerns than in the past.
And Shimon Fogel, CEO of the Canada-Israel Committee, said, "From our perspective we see it as a very encouraging sign."
He added that Canada was also trying to replace [by next year] the bevy of annual resolutions with a general "forward-looking" statement about the peace process.
"If Canada's successful with this initiative, it will effectively end this annual anti-Israel ritual," he said.
He noted that the move came after "a fair amount of encouragement from the pro-Israel community" for the government to overcome objections from Canadian Arabs, Muslims, and "bureaucrats" opposed to changing the policy.