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What lies ahead? Canada’s engagement with the Middle East Peace Process and the Palestinians: an Introduction

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This thematic issue of the Canadian Foreign Policy Journal explores Canada’s foreign policy relationship with the Palestinians and the Middle East Peace Process (MEPP). It does this through a combination of articles and policy commentaries by scholars from the academy and “pracademics” from government. This includes regional experts on Palestine, Palestinian refugees Palestinian state-building and Canadian foreign policy. The topics they cover include Canadian diplomacy on Israel-Palestine at the United Nations, the impact the international community and Canada have had on Israeli-Palestinian peacebuilding, Canada’s policy toward Palestinian refugees, Canadian development aid in the Occupied Palestinian Territory and an overview of Canadian foreign policy toward both the Palestinians and MEPP. This introduction sets the stage for their contributions by first providing an overview of the contemporary politics of the Middle East and where Israel-Palestine fits within them, including a brief account of peacebuilding efforts today. It also describes Canada’s not-insignificant contribution to the politics of the Middle East and towards the composure of Israel-Palestine today, and likewise the impact of each on Canada. In sum, the articles each explore a unique and important facet of the ongoing development of Canadian foreign policy toward the Palestinians and the MEPP.
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https://doi.org/10.1080/11926422.2021.1888761
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What lies ahead? Canada’s engagement
with the Middle East Peace Process and
the Palestinians: an Introduction
Published online: 20 Mar 2021
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What lies ahead? Canada’s engagement with the Middle East Peace Proce... https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/11926422.2021.1888761
1 of 9 21/03/2021, 11:42
This thematic issue of the Canadian Foreign Policy Journal explores Canada’s foreign
policy relationship with the Palestinians and the Middle East Peace Process (MEPP).
It does this through a combination of articles and policy commentaries by scholars
from the academy and “pracademics” from government. This includes regional
experts on Palestine, Palestinian refugees Palestinian state-building and Canadian
foreign policy. The topics they cover include Canadian diplomacy on Israel-Palestine
at the United Nations, the impact the international community and Canada have
had on Israeli-Palestinian peacebuilding, Canada’s policy toward Palestinian
refugees, Canadian development aid in the Occupied Palestinian Territory and an
overview of Canadian foreign policy toward both the Palestinians and MEPP. This
introduction sets the stage for their contributions by "rst providing an overview of
the contemporary politics of the Middle East and where Israel-Palestine "ts within
them, including a brief account of peacebuilding e#orts today. It also describes
Canada’s not-insigni"cant contribution to the politics of the Middle East and towards
the composure of Israel-Palestine today, and likewise the impact of each on Canada.
In sum, the articles each explore a unique and important facet of the ongoing
development of Canadian foreign policy toward the Palestinians and the MEPP.
RÉSUMÉ
Ce numéro thématique du Canadian Foreign Policy Journal explore la relation de
politique étrangère du Canada avec les Palestiniens et le processus de paix au
Moyen-Orient (PPMO). Pour ce faire, il s’appuie sur une combinaison d'articles et de
commentaires politiques écrits par des universitaires et des ‘ praticiens ’ du
gouvernement. Ces personnes comprennent des experts régionaux sur la Palestine,
les réfugiés palestiniens, la construction de l’État palestinien et la politique étrangère
canadienne. Les sujets qu’ils abordent comprennent la diplomatie canadienne sur la
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internationale et du Canada sur la consolidation de la paix israélo-palestinienne, la
politique du Canada à l’égard des réfugiés palestiniens, l’aide au développement du
Canada dans les territoires palestiniens occupés et un aperçu de la politique
étrangère canadienne à l’égard aussi bien des Palestiniens que du PPMO. Cette
introduction prépare le terrain pour leurs contributions en o#rant d’abord un
aperçu de la politique contemporaine du Moyen-Orient et de la place qu’y occupe
Israël et la Palestine, y compris un bref compte-rendu des e#orts de consolidation
de la paix aujourd’hui. Elle décrit aussi la contribution non négligeable du Canada à
la politique du Moyen-Orient et au calme régnant entre Israël et la Palestine
aujourd’hui, ainsi que l’impact de chacun d’entre eux sur le Canada. En résumé, les
articles explorent chacun une facette unique et importante du développement
continu de la politique étrangère canadienne à l’égard des Palestiniens et du PPMO.
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Acknowledgements
The guest editors would also like to thank Professor David Carment for his indelible patience
and sage support making this special edition journal a reality, Marshall Palmer for his
assiduous assistance in seeing all the articles through to publication and all of the
contributors for their personal insights and collective wisdom. This collection was inspired
out of a Symposium held at the University of Ottawa in February 2019, exploring Canada’s
historical and contemporary relationship with the Palestinians. It was co-organised by Dr
Jeremy Wildeman (then University of Bath), Professor Nadia Abu-Zahra (University of
Ottawa), Professor Reem Bahdi (University of Windsor), Professor Michael Lynk (University of
Western Ontario) and Omar Burgan. Most of the articles in this thematic special issue were
"rst presented at the gathering.
Disclosure statement
No potential con$ict of interest was reported by the author(s).
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Jeremy
Wildeman
Jeremy Wildeman
, PhD, is a Research Fellow at the Human Rights
Resource and Education Centre at the University of Ottawa.
Emma
Swan
Emma Swan
, Pierre Elliott Trudeau Scholar, is a PhD candidate at the
School of International Development and Global Studies, University of
Ottawa.
!
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This is an Accepted Manuscript (AM copy) of an article published with Taylor & Francis in
the Canadian Foreign Policy Journal on 2021 March 20th. The final, definitive, citable version
of this paper, which has been copyedited can be found Taylor & Francis Online at:
https://doi.org/10.1080/11926422.2021.1888761
If you have access, that definitive version at Taylor and Francis is better to work from, because
it includes corrections notably to references and the definitive page numbers to work from.
What lies ahead? Canadas engagement with the Middle East
Peace Process and the Palestinians:
an
introduction
Jeremy Wildeman and Emma SwanQ1
University of OttawaQ2
ABSTRACT
This thematic issue of the Canadian Foreign Policy Journal explores
Canadas foreign policy relationship with the Palestinians and the
Middle East Peace Process (MEPP). It does this through a
combination of articles and policy commentaries by scholars from
the academy and pracademicsfrom government. This includes
regional experts on Palestine, Palestinian refugees Palestinian
state-building and Canadian foreign policy. The topics they cover
include Canadian diplomacy on Israel-Palestine at the United
Nations, the impact the international community and Canada
have had on Israeli-Palestinian peacebuilding, Canadas policy
toward Palestinian refugees, Canadian development aid in the
Occupied Palestinian Territory and an overview of Canadian
foreign policy toward both the Palestinians and MEPP. This
introduction sets the stage for their contributions by rst
providing an overview of the contemporary politics of the Middle
East and where Israel-Palestine ts within them, including a brief
account of peacebuilding eorts today. It also describes Canadas
not-insignicant contribution to the politics of the Middle East
and towards the composure of Israel-Palestine today, and likewise
the impact of each on Canada. In sum, the articles each explore a
unique and important facet of the ongoing development of
Canadian foreign policy toward the Palestinians and the MEPP
Q3
.
Introduction
The year 2020 will be remembered for dramatic global events that brought to light both
the precariousness of the existing world order and perils in its nature. Everywhere norms
seem to be being challenged and social inequalities becoming more pronounced. The
future well-being of hundreds-of-millions of people and the stability of entire regions
are in question. For the rst time in living memory, the Global North appears to be at
the mercy to a calamitous event a pandemic that has wreaked havoc across the
Global South. It already seems inevitable that 2020 will be remembered as a rare historical
inection point where the world changed irrevocably.
Events contributing to that inection point include the United Kingdoms formal with-
drawal from the European Union (Brexit), the World Health Organisation (WHO) ocially
declaring COVID-19 a pandemic, the polarizing United States presidential election,
QA: Coll:
© 2021 NPSIA
CONTACT Jeremy Wildeman jeremy.wildeman@gmail.com @jeremywildeman
CANADIAN FOREIGN POLICY JOURNAL
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unprecedented curbs on civil liberties, and global protests such as ones for democracy in
Hong Kong, for political change in Belarus, and against racism and police brutality in the
United States. In addition, and as is often the case, many of the most important events of
2020 were centred on the Middle East. These include a Saudi-Russian oil price war that
contributed to a collapse in the price of crude, a collapsing Lebanese economy and the
devastating Beirut port disaster, the ongoing threat from violent Islamists, Turkeys con-
tinuing intervention in Kurdish regions of northern Syria and Iraq, conict in Nagorno-Kar-
abakh between Armenia and Azerbaijan, and ongoing, catastrophic civil wars in Libya,
Syria and Yemen.
These were all taking place parallel to larger geopolitical struggles. One pitted Turkey,
Qatar and the Muslim Brotherhood, against Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and
Egypt. Another prominent point of contestation is between Iran and its non-state allies,
like Lebanese Hizballah, Iraqi Kataib Hizballah and Yemeni Huthis, against the United
States, Israel, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. That struggle threatened
more than once to (d)evolve into a broader regional war following the United States
2018 withdrawal from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) nuclear accord
and a policy of maximum pressurewielded against Iran; the United Stateshigh
prole assassination of Iranian General Qassem Soleimani in Iraq to start 2020; the sabo-
tage of numerous Iranian nuclear and scientic installations in the summer of 2020; and
the killing of the head of Irans scientic nuclear program, Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, during
American Thanksgiving. That struggle is also indicative of the unprecedentedly open part-
nership between Israel, the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia. Meanwhile, Europe
continued to invest billions of dollars in regional programming in search of stability in
its Southern Neighbourhood and to keep refugees outside its borders, while Russia and
China continued to take advantage of increasing United States retrenchment from a
region it has dominated.
In light of the events outlined above, what better time to take stock and reect on
Canadas historical, contemporary and future engagement in the Middle East, than
through one of its primary entry points to the region, the Middle East Peace Process
(MEPP) and the Palestinians? This thematic special issue oers an overview of Canadas
relationships and role in this key part of the Middle East. The articles herein consider
how Canada has articulated and actioned policy towards the Palestinians, the Israeli-
Palestinian Conict, and the peace process, from the 1950
s to the present day. It explores
how Canadian policy in these areas materialized, both theoretically and in practice, and
what this means for Canada in the region moving forward.
As has been the case since the end of the Second World War, the Israeli-Palestinian
conict continued to occupy a central position in regional political dynamics in 2020.
On January 28th the Trump Administrations much anticipated Peace to Prosperity: A
Vision to Improve the Lives of the Palestinian and Israeli People (White House, 2020) was
released. This was that Administrations stab at an Israeli-Palestinian political settlement,
which has long occupied an important place in United States foreign policy. Also known
as Trumps Peace Planor, with Trumpian air, The Deal of the Century(Inskeep, 2020),
this plan represented a radical departure from past United States policy. It appeared
specically to eschew foundational principles undergirding the MEPP. That included
appearing to side with Israeli claims over sovereignty of the entirety of Jerusalem, annexa-
tion of large swathes of the Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT) and against the legal
2J. WILDEMAN AND E. SWAN
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status of millions of Palestinian refugees. Under Peace to Prosperity, the Palestinians would
be left with limited autonomy on a scattering of isolated bantustans whose composure is
often referred to in diplomatic circles as resembling the holes in Swiss cheese.The
details of the plan are in fact so one-sided, it has been referred to in some circles as a,
unilateral statement of the terms for Palestinian surrender(see Viveashs article in this
issue for a broader discussion of the plan). It could reasonably be argued it is the most
one-sided proposal for resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conict since proposals began
to be made under British colonial rule nearly a hundred years ago.
Peace to Prosperity was also remarkable for its profound ignorance of the historical and
contemporary issues related to the MEPP, and in particular issues fundamental to the
Palestinian cause, such as: their aspirations toward national self-determination, a sense
of injustice over the original partition of historical Palestine in 1948, a population half-
of-which has been forced to live stateless without protection as refugees, and a feeling
of abandonment by the international community. In return, the plan sought to placate
Palestinians with modest economic promises in return for their giving up on their
rights (Amnesty, 2020); a path long trodden when United States administrations try to
maintain the status quo. This was proposed while the United States punished the Pales-
tinians by withdrawing hundreds-of-millions of dollars in annual aid appropriations,
intrinsic to meeting Palestinian and refugee needs (MEMO, 2021). The United States
was wielding aid as a tool to force Palestinians to accede to the new Trump Adminis-
tration peacemodel in an economy that has been made dependent on foreign aid
inows (Amr, 2018), following decades of well-documented de-developmentof the
Palestinian economy under Israeli rule (Nakhleh, 2004;Roy, 1995,1999;Tartir & Seidel,
2018;Tartir, Dana, & Seidel, 2021
).
Peace to Prosperity proved controversial among the international community and even
among Israelis (Lazaro,2020a), given its one-sided nature and how it seemed to guaran-
tee the end of a two-state solution that all internationally legitimate Israeli-Palestinian
peace plans have been based upon. This should not be unexpected for a Trump Admin-
istration that was not shy to court controversy and often proved challenging to work with
for perhaps the closest and most loyal ally of the United States, Canada. Just as with the
North American Free Trade Agreement (now the United States-Mexico-Canada Agree-
ment) and its economic rivalry with China, the Trump Administrations approach to
Israeli-Palestinian peacebuilding was one of many important factors that further chal-
lenged Canadas ability to cling to a rules-based order while maintaining its post-World
War II-tethering to United States global leadership.
Historical ties to the Middle East that dene Canada as a country
Despite limited scholarship on Canada and the Middle East, the region is important to
Canada. Since 1947, Canada has not only been an actor in the Middle East, but at times
an important one (Dekar, 1987, p. 2). Already in the 1980s some leading scholars, like
Abu-Laban, went so far to describe the Middle East as a traditional area of concern for
Canada (Abu-Laban, 1988, p. 116), a view which seemed to be reinforced in government
circles at that time (Staneld, 1980). Those connections include demographic linkages
that have only grown since the 1980s. Now over one million Canadians identify as Arab
(Statistics Canada, 2017). Likewise, there are notable Kurdish, Armenian-, Turkish-,
CANADIAN FOREIGN POLICY JOURNAL 3
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Israeli- and Iranian-Canadian communities. The majority of the professed faiths in Canada
are of Abrahamic derivation, which for millions of Canadians creates a natural sense of
connection to the Holy Land.This is relevant for Canadas dominant Christian denomi-
nations, a sizable and established Jewish community, and a rapidly growing Muslim one.
Canada has consequential foreign policy ties to the region, too. As the articles in this
journal describe, that includes to the MEPP and to the Palestinians. In fact, engagement
with the region has been so impactful on Canada that it has shaped Canadas very identity
as a state independent from the British Empire, just as Canadians shaped the future com-
posure of Israel and Palestine at the partition of British Mandatory Palestine. Indeed, it
would be hard to envisage Canadas international identity without the Middle East.
Canada: the Foundation of Israel and Suez Crisis
Canadas early engagement with the Middle East was limited and done mostly in service
of the interests of the British Empire. Arguably, and leaving religious connectedness aside,
Canadians had in that time shown little concern for the region, with one exception when,
as Eayrs in 1957 wrote, Some quickening of interest may be discerned since 1945, chiey
because of Canadas role as midwifes helper at the birth of the state of Israel(p. 97).
There, Canada and powerful Canadians played intrinsic roles in the partition of what
was British Mandatory Palestine. Supreme Court of Canada Justice (194359), Ivan
C. Rand, was central in drafting a 1947 United Nations Special Committee on Palestine
(UNSCOP) Majority Report, which proposed partitioning the land into separate Jewish
and Palestinian states, with a slight majority of the land being awarded to the minority
Jewish community (Khalidi, 1997, p. 11). This concept of partition has dominated most
peace models to this day. Rand was also credited with bringing UNSCOP to adopt the
Majority Report, as opposed to an UNSCOP Minority Report that called for a federal
state (United Nations General Assembly, 1947). Another high level diplomat and future
Prime Minister of Canada (196368), Lester B. Pearson, was chairman of the United
Nations sub-committee responsible for establishing UNSCOP (Husseini, 2008, p. 41). He
played a lead role in partition and the subsequent recognition of Israel as a state at the
United Nations; while Canada recognized Israel in December 1948. As a result, Zionists
were so grateful to Canada and to Mr. Pearson for the part he played in the whole
process that they called him the Balfour of Canada’” (Report on Canadas Relations with
the Countries of the Middle East and North Africa,1985, p. 49). Zionism represents the ideo-
logical organizing principles behind the establishment of the state of Israel. The compari-
son to British Foreign Secretary Arthur James Balfour was praise of the highest magnitude,
for it was Balfour who in 1917 made the Balfour Declarationon behalf of the British gov-
ernment, promising the Jewish people a national home in what was Ottoman Palestine
(Balfour, 1917).
Canadian interest toward the broader Middle East was aroused following the Suez
Crisis in 1956, when Egypt nationali
zed the Suez Canal almost immediately after achieving
full independence from the British Empire. The Canal was long a strategic transit point of
global importance and had been dominated by British and French investors, and workers,
since the era of British colonial rule (18821956) (The Other Side of Suez,2012). Britain and
France thus conspired with Israel to provoke a military conict with Egypt, to create the
pretext for Britain and France to invade with the excuse of bringing order and peace
4J. WILDEMAN AND E. SWAN
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backto the region. The true intention of the aggressors was to put an end to Egypts
nationali
zation process and dispose of its anti-colonialist, pan-Arab nationalist President,
Gamal Abdel Nasser (195670) (ibid). The old tricks of once-Great Powers had though no
place in the new world order and the operation happened to the dismay not only of the
Egyptian people, but international public opinion and the worlds new Superpowers, the
Soviet Union and United States.
Most nations around the world sided with Egypt, and the Soviet Union even threa-
tened to use nuclear weapons. The United States was furious it had not been consulted
in advance, with President Eisenhower threatening to throw Britain and France out of the
North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) and to sell oSterling Bonds. The sale could
have crashed the United Kingdom economy not long after a Second World War that
left Britain broke. For Canada, this confrontation was extremely concerning because it
threatened to undo the special transatlantic alliance that had developed between the
United States and United Kingdom in winning the war. This was also a period of transition
for Canada. The Suez Crisis came at a time when it was moving away from its historical
role as loyal colony of Britain, to deepening ties with a new patron in the United States
(Husseini, 2008, p. 43). For this reason, few events as the Suez Crisis would arouse as
much anxiety in Canada since the Second World War (Eayrs, 1957, p. 102). As a matter
of national foreign policy priority, Canada sprang into action in search of devising a
way to maintain harmony in the transatlantic alliance by helping Britain to abandon its
intentions for Egypt, while defusing the conict in the Middle East and the United
Statesdispleasure with the United Kingdom. Secretary of State for External Aairs
(SSEA) (194857), Pearson would do this by proposing the worldsrst large-scale
United Nations peacekeeping force.
Pearson, a former president of the United Nations General Assembly 7th session (1952
53), had worked tirelessly over the years to strengthen the inuence of the world body. If
not for Soviet vetoes, he may have become its Secretary-General. Working in 1956 with
the actual Secretary-General, Dag Hammarskjöld, Pearson sought to defuse the crisis by
proposing a United Nations Emergency Force (UNEF) to be stationed in Egypt and
police the area, providing a way for Israel, France and the United Kingdom to withdraw
with minimal loss of face and for Britain to preserve its close relationship with the
United States. The invading countriestroops would be replaced by UNEF forces,
whose 6,000 person target strength, achieved by February 1957 (First United Nations Emer-
gency Force (UNEF I) Background (Full Text),n.d.), was built around a core 1,100 Canadian
troop deployment (Eayrs, 1957, p. 102).
There had been much debate in Canada over the correct course of action. Many loyal-
ists, notably in the Progressive Conservative Party, were adamant about supporting the
United Kingdom in its time of need. Pearson himself assured the Canadian public that
the solution to the Suez Crisis had been sought out by Britain and actually worked in
its favo
r(Lester Pearson & the Suez Crisis 2,n.d.). Meanwhile, there was almost unanimous
acceptance in Canada of its newfound importance in world aairs, deriving from Pear-
sons peacebuilding innovation. The achievement earned him a Nobel Peace Prize in
1957 and ushered in what is considered the Golden Ageof Pearsonian diplomacy,
which came to dene Canadas national identity on the world stage. There, Canada
was perceived as an even-handed and fair-minded peacemonger,willing to leave its
place in the western European camp in order to act as an interlocutor facilitating
CANADIAN FOREIGN POLICY JOURNAL 5
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discussions that bridged the divide between communist East and capitalist West, and
Global North and Global South (McKercher, 2014, p. 329).
Support for Israel and pragmatic multilateralism
In this Golden Age of Canadian diplomacy in the 1950s and 1960s, Canadian leadership
considered international bodies like the United Nations, NATO and British Commonwealth
to be intrinsic to Canadas security and national interests. That connection to those multi-
lateral bodies became embedded in what we know as the Pearsonian approach to foreign
policy. Through them, Canada felt it could play a more signicant and independent role in
world aairs, allowing it to punch above its weight,and this drove Canada to construc-
tively contribute to the well-being of those bodies. Canadian leaders like Pearson and Pro-
gressive Conservative Prime Minister John Diefenbaker (195763) also understood they
were living in a rapidly changing world (McKercher, 2014). With decoloni
zation under
way, global politics was becoming rapidly less European in character, and this would
have a signicant impact on international institutions like the United Nations and Com-
monwealth. By 1961, African, Asian, and Latin American members constituted two-
thirds of the United Nations General Assembly. Decoloni
zation in Africa and Asia trans-
formed power relations in these organi
zations and placed racial discrimination at the
top of their agendas. This was an important shift for Palestinians because decolonization
was the prism through which the Global South perceived the Palestinian cause.
Diefenbaker was concerned about holding together a majority non-white Common-
wealth, which he considered to be a force for good in the world. He felt Canada could
not aord to sit back when crises arose in the international community over racial and
postcolonial injustice. Worried that newly independent countries embittered against
their former Imperial sovereigns in the capitalist West were susceptible to inuence
from a Soviet bloc that presented itself as a champion of decoloni
zation, he, as well as
Pearson, positioned Canada to become sensitive to the aspirations of the non-European
peoples of the Global South. They went so far as to vote with the Global South at the
United Nations even on positions Canada found unpalatable (McKercher, 2014, p. 336);
while championing the universality of human rights (ibid, p. 330); something anathematic
to the racist logic colonialism was built upon. This approach was evident when Canadian
leaders stepped in during the Suez Crisis, concerned that, in addition to disrupting the
transatlantic alliance, it could undermine the Commonwealth by pitting the white
former dominions against the rest of its non-European membership.
By the mid-1960s the Middle East had become an important space for the formation of
a Canadian national identity and Pearsonianism(Labelle, 2019, pp. 172173). At the
same time, Ottawa made Israels right to exist and prospera key tenet of Canadian diplo-
macy, even if this led many to declare Canada, 3/4 impartial on the Israeli side(ibid,
p. 173). Though that contributed to Canada being a notable supporter of Israel, this
support was not uninching. Canada had opposed Israels acquisition of territory from
Egypt including the Gaza Strip during the Suez Crisis in 1956 and also opposed
Israels acquisition of the OPT the West Bank, East Jerusalem and Gaza Strip by
force in the 1967 Six-Day War. For this reason, Canada backed United Nations Security
Council Resolution 242 (S/RES/242), which called for Israeli withdrawal from occupied ter-
ritories and a negotiated settlement among the warring parties. Canada was also one of
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the earliest and largest providers of Palestinian aid. From 1950 to 1969, Canada was the
third largest contributor to the United Nations Refugee and Works Agency for Palestine
Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) (Forsythe, 1971, p. 39). UNRWAsrst Commissioner
General in 1949 was also a Canadian, Major General Howard Kennedy (External Aairs
and International Trade Canada, 1993b, p. 11).
Still, Arabs were growing frustrated with Canada during this period, and criticized Pear-
sons self-proclaimed even-handednessbecause it seemed to favo
r Israeli actions at the
expense of Arab human dignity (Labelle, 2019, p. 171). Even though Canada still saw itself
as able to play the peacekeeper role, which requires a sense of neutrality, there was a,
[C]ertain resistance from Arab states to what they perceived to be the lack of balance in
Canadas approach on the one hand, a deep commitment to the state of Israel with no par-
allel commitment to the rights of Palestinians to a homeland, and on the other, its minimal
relations and trade with the Arab states of the area. (Report on Canadas Relations with the
Countries of the Middle East and North Africa, 1985, p. 50)
As Palestinians pursued their claims for self-determination, this still did not gure as a
major element in either S/RES/242 or Canadian policy, other than as, amorphous refu-
geesin need of a just settlementto their plight(Brynen, 2007, p. 74). By 1967 and
1973, Egypt was at odds with Canada over UNEF and especially Canadas presence in it.
As a result, in 1973 during the Arab oil embargo of nations perceived to be pro-Israel, ship-
ments to Canada were cut by 22 percent as it was classied as a neutralcountry that was
generally pro-Israel in its policies (Report on Canadas Relations with the Countries of the
Middle East and North Africa,1985, p. 51). This was at a time when Arab oil accounted
for 25 percent of Canadian imports (Report on Canadas Relations with the Countries of
the Middle East and North Africa,1985, p. 51).
Canadas image took a particular turn for the worse when in 1979 a short-lived Joe
Clark Progressive Conservative government came to power with a campaign pledge to
move Canadas embassy to Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, which would eectively
recogni
ze Israeli conquest of 1967 OPT territory by force. Such a one-sided move pro-
voked a Saudi-led a regional backlash from the Arab world. That in turn led to the
appointment of former Progressive Conservative Party leader (196776), Robert L
Staneld, as Special Representative of the Government of Canada Respecting the
Middle East and North Africa,who almost immediately recommended Canada return
to a more fair-minded and constructive Middle East policy (Staneld, 1980).
Canada and the Middle East Peace Process
The Jerusalem Embassy crisis exposed a fault line in Canadian politics, as well as amongst
those who took an interest in the Middle East. However, Stanelds recommendations and
follow-up by the Clark government, and then successive PE Trudeau Liberal (198084),
Brian Mulroney Progressive Conservative (198493) and Jean Chrétien Liberal (1993
2003) governments, would represent what many considered a return to a more traditional
Pearsonian approach to global aairs. The process of making this return, described by
Robinson in this collection, would position Canada to become an important and poten-
tially constructive actor in the Middle East, this time through the United States-led Oslo
Peace Process at the cent
erof the MEPP. Thus, Canada was one of only twelve countries
CANADIAN FOREIGN POLICY JOURNAL 7
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invited at the foreign ministerial level to the White House in 1993 for the signing cer-
emony of the Oslo I accord, which External Aairs said (at the time) reected Canadas
credentials earned over forty-ve years from its commitment to the Middle East and its
having, consistently kept the door open to all parties in the region(External Aairs
and International Trade Canada, 1993a, p. 2). This approach allowed Canada to take on
important leadership roles in some of the most sensitive political aspects of the peace
process, such as acting as the Gavel holder (chair) of the Refugee Working Group
(199296) and becoming the sponsor of the Ottawa Track II Process (19972000).
By 1993, the Government of Canada would state, Canada has strongly supported the
State of Israel since its foundation in 1948 and is rmly committed to that countrys well-
being as an independent state in the Middle East, within secure and recognised bound-
aries(External Aairs and International Trade Canada, 1993b, p. 18). Yet, that did not
mean Canada supported Israels claim over parts of the OPT, including East Jerusalem.
Canadas position in November 1993 was, and save for the last sentence, largely remains,
Canada does not recognise permanent Israeli control over the territories occupied in 1967
(the Golan Heights, the West Bank, East Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip) and opposes all unilat-
eral actions intended to predetermine the outcome of negotiations, including the establish-
ment of settlements in the territories and unilateral moves to annex East Jerusalem and the
Golan Heights. Canada considers such actions to be contrary to international law and unpro-
ductive to the peace process. (External Aairs and International Trade Canada, 1993b, p. 22)
Though no longer in the top-three of donors to UNRWA, by 1993, the Government of
Canada estimated it had provided a total of $202 million to the United Nations organiz-
ation (External Aairs and International Trade Canada, 1993b, p. 16).
Even after Conversative Prime Minister Stephen Harper (200615) embraced a partisan
pro-Israel approach to the Israel-Palestine conict, Canada remained quite engaged with
the Palestinians as one of the international communitys top sources of Palestinian devel-
opment aid (Wildeman, 2018, p. 154; 2020). In fact, of the over $CAD 1 billion in aid
Canada spent on the Palestinians between the 1996/97 and 2018/19 nancial years
(Wildeman, 2020), the Harper government still accounts more than half of that spending.
Under the Harper government, Canada also continued though perhaps reluctantly and
below the proverbial radarof Cabinet to support the Jerusalem Old City Initiative
(JOCI), a research project aimed, at providing practical and fair solutions to the Old
City of Jerusalem, one of the most contentious and signicant issues in the Israeli-Pales-
tinian conict(University of Windsor, n.d.).
The JOCI was a sort of spiritual successor, on a smaller scale, to the political work
Canada had supported under the Mulroney and Chrétien governments. It was an
unocial, but government funded Track IIproject designed to provide ideas for the res-
olution of the conict between Israel and the Palestinians over Jerusalems Walled Old
City and the overlapping holy sites it contains. Established by three recently retired Cana-
dian diplomats Michael James Molloy, Michael Dougall Bell and John Bell near the end
of the Chrétien government in October 2003 JOCI employed a combination of work-
shops, commissioned studies and intensive consultations involving Israeli, Palestinian and
international peace negotiators and subject matter experts, to develop ideas for a special
regimeto manage the most sensitive aspects of the Old City. Between 2003 and 2012,
JOCI working groups worked out in-depth proposals for the governance and security
8J. WILDEMAN AND E. SWAN
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325
330
335
340
345
350
355
360
of the Old City and its Holy Sites under a neutral (third party) administrator overseen by a
governance board (Molloy, 2021). The design work included suggestions for an inter-
national police force, access to the holy sites, coordination of religious events, archaeol-
ogy, property transfer, dispute resolution, planning and zoning, utilities and an economic
framework (ibid.). The JOCIs proposals were widely disseminated to policy communities
in Israel, the Palestinian Authority/ Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO), the Middle
East, the European Union and United States. Its documentation supported Secretary
John Kerrysnal eorts to revive the peace process in the second term of the Obama
AdministrationQ4
(ibid.).
1
By the early 2010s, the Harper governments policy towards Israel and the Palestinian-
Israeli conict had become, the center of gravityof Canadian policy towards the broader
Middle East, inuencing Ottawas approach to the entire region(Musu, 2012, p. 72). There
the Harper Doctrineoperated, in part, on a belief that previous governments had
wrongly gone along to get alongwith Israels critics on the world stage (Chapnick &
Kukucha, 2016, p. 106). From another point of view, his Conservative government was
specically eschewing the approach taken by previous Liberal and Progressive Conserva-
tive governments of empathizing with Global Southern viewpoints in Middle East aairs.
It also reected what Chapnick and Kukucha (2016) refer to as Harpersvisceral feeling
that dogmatically supportingIsraeli interests was simply the right thing to do, regardless
of its political cost, irrespective of the number of Conservative members of Parliament
seated in the House of Commons and even sometimes without consideration for the
expressed concerns of Israelis themselves (Ibid). As described by several articles in this col-
lection, this contributed to a shift in Canadian voting patterns at the United Nations from
somewhat sympathetic for the Palestinians
a prevalent viewpoint in the international
community
to an overtly pro-Israel stance. This has left Canada voting ever since with
a tiny group of states on issues related to Israel and Palestine, that could be counted
on two hands, such as Australia, Israel, the Marshall Islands, the Federated States of Micro-
nesia, Nauru and the United States (United Nations, 2020).
The Middle East Peace Process today
Nearly three decades since Canadas involvement in the MEPP began and nearly a year
since the release of the agrantly biased Peace to Prosperity, today many have proclaimed
the MEPP to be either moribund or, at best, on life support (see Viveash commentary in
this collection). In addition to a collapse of the peace process, Palestinians are facing a
crisis in leadership with generally low condence in the Palestinian Authority (Survey
Research Unit, 2018,2020). Adding to the breakdown in the MEPP and domestic politics,
2020 ushered in a new wrecking ball: COVID-19. At the time of writing this introduction,
Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza have handled the COVID-19 virus remarkably well
compared to states that enjoy more freedom and have many more resources to draw
from. This is despite early fears that the virus would wreak devastation on a population
rendered generally quite vulnerable by an occupation that deprives them of the resources
they need to deal with any crisis (Tartir & Hawari, 2020). From a more cynical point of view,
Palestinians are also a population that has for generations become accustomed to strict
lockdowns (Ayyash, 2020). So, they were arguably more prepared for what ghting
COVID-19 would entail.
CANADIAN FOREIGN POLICY JOURNAL 9
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375
380
385
390
395
400
405
Success at containing the virus did earn Palestinian Prime Minister Shtayyeh and the
Palestinian Authority some early domestic accolades after they acted quickly and early,
declaring a state of emergency on March 5th (Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey
Research, 2020). In fact, their approach was eective enough internally that the early
primary source for COVID-19 transmissions ended up being Palestinian workers returning
from Israeli construction areas (Tartir & Hawari, 2020). Still, the full impact of how COVID-
19 will play out is to be seen and the expectation Western countries will be struggling
with their own domestic economic situation suggests aid assistance to the OPT could
diminish in the years to come. This could carry signicant unforeseen political impli-
cations on an often aid-reliant economy.
The status of Peace to Prosperity is meanwhile uncertain. Trump lost the November
2020 United States election, won by a Biden Administration that is likely to re-embrace
many of the underlying tenets of the MEPP, such as support for Palestinian refugees
and the two-state solution (Magid & Boxerman, 2021). At the same time, it is unlikely
to expend signicant political capital on Israel-Palestine peacebuilding owing to other sig-
nicant domestic priorities. Pushback from Europe and international public opinion
(Lovatt, 2020), did however lead the Netanyahu government in Israel to put de jure
annexation of 30 percent of the OPT on hold (Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey
Research, 2020). In return and as a public reward, the United Arab Emirates oered to nor-
malize relations with Israel through the Abraham Accords.
This would be a breakthrough for Israel, which had only normalized relations in the
region with Jordan (1994) and Egypt (1978). This was also an opportunity for Israel and
the Emirates to become public with their unocial working relationship, which it had
been dicult to be open about in the past given how strong sympathies were, and
remain, in the Arab world for the Palestinians cause (El-Kurd, 2020). For example, Egypt
was once suspended from the Arab League (197989) for rst making peace with
Israel, and Egyptian President Anwar Sadat was assassinated in 1981 over his role in nor-
malizing relations. Meanwhile, the 1994 agreement with Jordan remains unpopular in a
country where the status of the OPT and Palestinian statehood are treated as high
national security issues (Badarin, 2020).
Bahrain would soon follow the Emirates at normalization, almost certainly at the
behest of their Saudi patrons (Najjar, 2020), and on 15th September 2020 they partici-
pated in an Abraham Accords signing ceremony on the White House Lawn, alongside
the Emirates, United States and Israel. Sudan and Morocco have since joined the
Accords, and all actors did this in return for goods provided by the United States. For
the Emirates, this included being allowed to purchase the most modern F-35 ghter
jets (Wrigley, 2020); for Sudan, being removed from the American state sponsor of terror-
ism listing; and the United States recognized Moroccos occupation and annexation of the
Western Sahara, at the expense of the native Sahrawi people (Goldberg, 2020; Jakes,
2020).
Polling indicates Palestinians overwhelmingly rejected a process of normalization
which they perceive as occurring at their expense, with a majority describing it as a
betrayal (Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research, 2020). The Accords indeed
represent a break from the 2002 Saudi-led Arab Peace Initiative that, like the MEPP and
S/RES/242, put forth a land-for-peace formula proposing Palestinian statehood in the
West Bank and Gaza Strip (with East Jerusalem as its capital) in exchange for Arab
10 J. WILDEMAN AND E. SWAN
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415
420
425
430
435
440
445
450
normalization of relations with Israel. By contrast, the Abraham Accords appear to trade
away Palestinian land and rights, in exchange for limited Arab-Israeli détente.
For its part, the Netanyahu government has not backed away from its annexation
plans. For one, it has continued to approve the construction of thousands of new settle-
ment homes in the OPT (Sta& AFP, 2020). Second, it suggested on numerous
occasions that annexation is only temporarily on hold. For instance, Israels Ambassador
to both the United Nations and the United States, Gilad Erdan, explicitly stated that
annexation may still happen (T.O.I. Sta,2020), while Netanyahu himself suggested
annexation is still on the proverbial table (Lazaro,2020b). Even United States Ambas-
sador to Israel, David Friedman, was quoted as saying annexation had not been can-
celed (Abu Toameh, 2020).
While Palestinians may perceive the Abraham Accords as a betrayal, the Trudeau gov-
ernment celebrated the agreement (Global Aairs Canada, 2020b), describing it as a his-
toric and positive step toward peace and security (Global Aairs Canada, 2020a). As with
the Netanyahu government, the Accords were a welcome opportunity for Canada to
escape from a tricky political situation. Despite Canadas muted public response to
annexation (Dyer, 2020), it posed a threat to international law and the rules-based inter-
national order the Trudeau government has promised to reinforce (Sands & Carment,
2019). Formal annexation may have forced Canada to take a stronger stance against it
or risk consequences for its international image by remaining silent. As such, Minister
of Foreign Aairs Champagne would state the Government of Canada was pleased
Israel had announced its decision to suspend annexation of parts of the West Bank and
that,
As a friend and ally of Israel and a friend to the Palestinian people, Canada remains strongly
committed to a two-state solution, including the creation of a Palestinian state living side-by-
side in peace and security with Israel, and a comprehensive, just and lasting peace. (Global
Aairs Canada, 2020a)
The threat annexation posed for Canadas foreign policy is not light speculation. As hap-
pened in 1979 and is described by Wildeman in this collection, Canadas Israel-Palestine
policies impact on how Canada does business in the Middle East and on its foreign aairs
more broadly, for example, in fora such as the United Nations.
In 2020, Canada was competing for two open seats on the United Nations Security
Council against two smaller competitors, Ireland and Norway, which are known for
their constructive engagement in world aairs and robust development aid budgets.
Since Canada last competed unsuccessfully for a seat in 2010, Ireland and Norway have
consistently had a foreign policy record that is more in line with international law and
support for human rights for Israel-Palestine, as compared to Canada, which had one
of the worst. That matters in a United Nations General Assembly that is dominated by
nations of the Global South, which often identify with and advocate for Palestinians.
Once seemingly a lock for election to the body because of its past commitment to multi-
lateralism, the unthinkable happened when Canada lost to Portugal and Germany in its
2010 bid for a seat, ending a streak of sitting on the council once per decade (CBC,
2010). That loss was blamed in part on the Harper Conservative governments shift in
Middle East policy from one perceived as being fair-minded toward all actors in the
region, to being partisan pro-Israel (CBC,2010).
CANADIAN FOREIGN POLICY JOURNAL 11
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460
465
470
475
480
485
490
495
Despite a rhetorical shift by the Trudeau government promising a return to a tra-
ditional Pearsonian approach, which the Harper government had specically rejected,
the gap between image and reality has been so gaping that questions abounded
among Canadians themselves if Canada was even worthy of its bid for the seat (Kimber
& Kirk, 2020). There was even an energetic campaign led by Canadian civil society
groups against their own countrys bid. That campaign attracted supporters that included
over one hundred organizations and international personalities, such as Noam Chomsky
and former Pink Floyd guitarist Roger Waters (also see Spitkas commentary in this collec-
tion). One of the campaigns key arguments was,
Since 2000 Canada has voted against 166 UN General Assembly resolutions critical of Israels
treatment of Palestinians. Ireland and Norway havent voted against a single one of these res-
olutions. Additionally, Ireland and Norway have voted yes 251 and 249 times respectively on
resolutions related to Palestinian rights during this period. Canada has managed 87 yes votes,
but only two since 2010. (Just Peace Advocates, 2020)
The campaign raised so much concern that Canadas Ambassador to the United Nations
felt compelled to write a letter to his fellow Ambassadors addressing it (Blanchard, 2020).
Whatever impact the campaign and issue of Palestine had, it was a remarkable aair and
Canada lost its 2020 bid even more handily than in 2010.
Articles in this special edition
This special issue lls a gap in the academic literature on Canadas relationship to the
Palestinians, while adding to the limited scholarship on Canadas approach to the
MEPP and Middle East generally. Moreover, this issue is unique in that it brings together
scholarly articles from the academy, as well as pieces by Canadian diplomats and other
civil servants deeply involved in representing Canada and its approach to the MEPP.
These past and present foreign policy ocials oer rst-hand accounts of the front
linesof Canadian diplomacy in the region.
By bringing together the intellectual reections of these diverse contributors, who
altogether have extensive rsthand experience with the topic being explored, this collec-
tion provides a holistic look that will be useful to Canadian ocials considering new ways
of engaging in the region. Much has been written about the divide in scholar-practitioner
interactions. This critique rests on grievances from both sides: with scholars accusing pol-
icymakers of falling short in applying context specic decision-making, failing to univer-
sally uphold the Governments commitments, and lacking in-depth theoretical rigor;
while policy makers and practitioners accuse scholars of failing to provide policy relevant
recommendations from their often-hypercritical theorizing and ivory tower navel-gazing.
As Bertucci, Borges-Herrero & Fuentes-Julio (2014)Q5
argue, scholars and practitioners in
this eld tend to talk past each other, with little impact in either direction(p. 56). This
thematic special issue, however, oers a dierent approach. By bringing together the
practitioners emphasis on experience and the scholars emphasis on theory and research,
the fruits of their interaction paints a more informed, well-rounded picture of Canadian
engagement. While each tackles a unique and important facet of Canadian foreign
policy, these research articles and policy commentaries work together to argue for a
more consistent articulation and application of Canadian foreign policy vis-à-vis the Pales-
tinians, the Israeli-Palestinian conict and the MEPP.
12 J. WILDEMAN AND E. SWAN
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505
510
515
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540
Former Canadian diplomats, Michael Molloy, Andrew Robinson, and David Viveash
oer readers a chance to peak behind the curtainof Canadian foreign policy through
three key historical moments, respectively: the admittance of Palestinian refugees in
19551956, Canadas policy toward the PLO and recognition of Palestinian self-determi-
nation in 1989, and Canadas involvement in the Madrid Peace Process in 1991 and sub-
sequent role in the MEPP.
Michael Molloy served as the Canadian Coordinator of the Middle East Peace Process
(20002003), was the Ambassador of Canada to Jordan from 1996 to 2000, a founding
member of the Multilateral Refugee Working Group, and Co-Director of the Jerusalem
Old City Initiative. In his policy commentary, False Start: Canadas Resettlement of Palesti-
nian Refugees, 19551956,Molloy sheds new light and oers new analysis on the details
of an unusual 1956 Palestinian refugee movement to Canada, describing important his-
torical processes and events around Palestinian refugees that are relevant to this day.
This includes the centrality refugees will play in the success of any peace process, and
Canadas early experiences and former emphasis on that issue. His article also provides
context for the way in which race and identity have helped shape Canadiansviews of
immigration and foreign policy.
During his time as a 36-year career diplomat, Andrew Robinson served as Chairperson
to the Refugee Working Group, and Director General and Special Coordinator for the
Middle East Peace Process (19952000). He also served at the Canadian diplomatic
mission in Beirut during Israels invasion of Lebanon in 1982. Speaking with rst-hand
experience and intimate familiarity, in his policy commentary, Talking with the PLO: Over-
coming Political Challenges,Robinson outlines the Canadian domestic and international
events surrounding SSEA Joe Clarks announcement that Canada would, in 1989, recog-
nize the Palestinian right to self-determination. Likewise, Canada chose to lift remaining
restrictions on dialogue with the PLO, which would allow Canada to open formal dialogue
with them and thus be able to contribute to international peacebuilding eorts. These
were controversial moves, but were vital in setting the stage for Canada to play an
active and constructive role in the multilateral track of the Madrid Peace Process, and
were in Canadas national interests.
Robinsons piece segues into David Viveashs policy commentary where he raises the
important question, Has President Trump Killed the Middle East Peace Process?There
Viveash, the Deputy Head of Mission at the Canadian Embassy to Israel (19951998)
and the Canadian Representative to the Palestinian Authority in Ramallah from (2006
2008), reviews the evolution of the Madrid Peace Process since 1991 through subsequent
decades of the MEPP, placing particular emphasis on lessons learned from Canadas role
in the multilateral negotiations. After reviewing Canadas initial response to Peace to Pros-
perity, Viveash considers ways in which Canada might inuence the debate going forward
and ponders if the Trump Administrations proposal may nally have marked the end of
the MEPP.
In Assessing Canadas foreign policy approach to the Palestinians and Israeli-Palestinian
Peacebuilding, 19792019,Dr Jeremy Wildeman, a research fellow at the Human Rights
Resource and Education Centre, University of Ottawa, and a Middle East research
analyst with nearly a decade of experience as a development practitioner in the West
Bank, describes how Canada has two dierent approaches it may adopt at dierent
times in its Middle East foreign policy towards the Israel-Palestine conict. One is
CANADIAN FOREIGN POLICY JOURNAL 13
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585
considered a more traditional and fair-minded Pearsonianapproach, which is centred
on multilateralism, and where Canada seeks to build bridges and peace by acting as an
interlocutor between its Western allies and countries in the Global South/ Middle East.
The other is a more partisan, Harperianapproach, which is centered on bilateral relation-
ships built on a foundation of (perceived) shared values with like-mindedWestern
democracies. That approach is taken at the expense of states or non-state groups like
the Palestinians, usually from the Global South, who are not considered like-minded.
In his article, The International Communitys Role and Impact on the Middle East Peace
Process,pracademic Dr Michael Atallah, a Senior Middle East Analyst at the Privy Council
Oce of the Government of Canada argues in a personal capacity that foreign donors
to the Palestinians, including Canada, have played a lead role in shaping and maintaining
a turbulent status quo in Israel-Palestine, while propping up global consensus for a near
moribund two-state solution. This is tied to their failure to challenge their own assump-
tions and to adapt to changing realities as the conditions necessary for peace deteriorated
around them. This led to a gaping chasm between theoretical aims for peace-building and
what was actually happening. This, he maintains, resulted in a process that ultimately
undermines peace while permanently damaging the credibility of the international com-
munity. He further argues this pushed Palestinians further away from the prospect of self-
determination, while allowing Israel to maintain a status quo that endangers its own long-
term security.
In their article, Canada, the United Nations, and the Israeli-Palestinian Conict,Univer-
sity of Ottawa Professor Costanza Musu and Cornell doctoral candidate Amelia Arsenault
describe how Canada has articulated and pushed its views of Israel-Palestine at the United
Nations, balancing between sometimes contradictory priorities. In oering this descrip-
tion, the authors note that the Israeli-Palestinian conict has long occupied a central
place in Canadas Middle East policy, and how Ottawa has seen itself as an honest
brokerin it. In the process, Musu and Arsenault oer a useful historical account of the
lineage of Canadas United Nations voting and foreign policy.
In her article, The Personal is Political!: Exploring the Limits of Canadas Feminist Inter-
national Assistance Policy Under Occupation and Blockade,University of Ottawa doctoral
candidate Emma Swan draws on her recent eld research in the OPT and enters into a
detailed discussion of Justin Trudeaus Feminist International Assistance Policy, arguing
that the technocratic and apolitical approach Canada adopts in its development and
humanitarian interventions in the Gaza Strip is at odds with the Liberal governments
commitment to feminist-informed international assistance. This calls into question the
extent to which the Trudeau governments quixotic policy espouses fundamental feminist
principles related to the political drivers of insecurity faced by women. Swan argues that
for Gaza, this renders Canadas assistance inadequate in addressing the most pressing pol-
itical-structural factors driving aspects of womens insecurity, such as Israeli occupation
and blockade.
As a former ocer on the Middle East Desk for the now shuttered Canadian Inter-
national Development Agency, University of Ottawa Professor Ruby Dagher lls an impor-
tant void related to Canadas role in the economic de-development of the OPT in her
article, Canadas Economic Assistance to the OPT: Ideology, Politics, and Flawed Responses.
While providing a historical assessment of the economic challenges Palestinians have
faced, Dagher argues that Canadas actions, like that of other donors, have allowed and
14 J. WILDEMAN AND E. SWAN
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595
600
605
610
615
620
625
630
even contributed to Israel being able to undertake actions that come at a signicant econ-
omic cost to the Palestinians. Those actions include undermining the possibility of Pales-
tinian economic development and the emergence of a self-sustaining Palestinian
economy. Dagher argues this stems from Canadas unwillingness to engage with the
real problems aecting Palestinians and a lack of political will to do something about
them, perhaps owing to Canadas close alignment with Israel.
Finally, Dr Timea Spitka, is a senior fellow at the Norman Paterson School of Inter-
national Aairs and a research specialist of human security and of children in conict,
who has extensive practitioners experience, including in Israel-Palestine. She oers a
policy commentary interrogating Canadas image as a normative leader in human
rights, human security and gender, versus its tendency to waver on those principles
when applied to Israel. Spitka argues that taking sides has not helped to promote
peace or reduce conict, that the best route to security for Israel itself is peace and uni-
versal human security, and that Canada could re-engage as a constructive peacebuilder
if it so chose.
Indeed, despite a pessimistic forecast about Canadian Middle East policy and regional
peacebuilding among the contributions in this collection, the belief that Canada can,
should and has done better is a unifying ideal interwoven among them.
Conclusion
The Middle East has, and remains, important to Canada. Likewise, as many of the contri-
butors to this special edition lay out, Canada has at times been able to play a constructive
role in the region, and specically in the Israeli-Palestinian conict. Equally, there have
been periods where Canada has either not been a constructive party or even been a
part of the problem. This is not a simple foreign policy relationship.
We need to note that the contributions in this special edition do not focus on the dom-
estic politics of Israel-Palestine in Canada or Canadas relationship with Israel. While some
of the contributors touch upon those factors in their analysis, we make this caveat while
recognizing that those issues have become deeply politicized and at times, strongly con-
tested among Canadians. We also recognize the challenge of credibly addressing any
aspect of Palestine, the MEPP or the Middle East in Canadian policy, given the career
pressure academics face to avoid discussion of it (Bahdi, 2020; Selley, 2021; Zine, Bird,
& Matthews, 2020). For that same reason, Canadas Palestine, MEPP and Middle East pol-
icies are automatically rendered important topics for scholarly exploration.
As the authors of this collection demonstrate, since the creation of the State of Israel
and the genesis of the contemporary Israeli-Palestinian conict, Canada has played an
important role in seeking solutions to the issues most germane to the question of
peace. It is clear from this thematic special issue that as a country, throughout the
decades, Canada has often traversed a simplistic pro-Israel/pro-Palestiniandivide,
versus a more nuanced, people-centric approach. With many examples of inconsistencies
in Canadian foreign policy addressing the Palestinians and the MEPP, and fewer examples
of Canada providing laudable leadership in these areas, what remains stable is its sus-
tained involvement in the region.
Given its historical track record of involvement, it is safe to assume Palestine and the
Israeli-Palestinian conict will continue to elicit attention and involvement on the part
CANADIAN FOREIGN POLICY JOURNAL 15
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645
650
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675
of the Canadian Government. The extraordinary events of 2020, including the release of
Peace to Prosperity, may be a catalyst for Canada to redene its policy towards the Pales-
tinians and Israeli-Palestinian peacebuilding; there may even be signs of this taking place.
Note
1. A history of the Initiative and its main proposals can be found in Track Two Diplomacy and
Jerusalem: The Jerusalem Old City Initiative (Najem et al., 2017). Companion volumes, Govern-
ance and Security in Jerusalem (Najem
, Molloy, Bell, & Bell,2018) and Contested Sites in Jeru-
salem (Najem et al., 2017) contain JOCIs commissioned studies. For an analysis of the JOCI
and two other Jerusalem proposals see, Transcript for Is Peace Possible?Chapter 4: Jerusa-
lem(Krieger, 2011).
Acknowledgements
The guest editors would also like to thank Professor David Carment for his indelible patience and
sage support making this special edition journal a reality, Marshall Palmer for his assiduous assist-
ance in seeing all the articles through to publication and all of the contributors for their personal
insights and collective wisdom. This collection was inspired out of a Symposium held at the Univer-
sity of Ottawa in February 2019, exploring Canadas historical and contemporary relationship with
the Palestinians. It was co-organised by Dr Jeremy Wildeman (then University of Bath), Professor
Nadia Abu-Zahra (University of Ottawa), Professor Reem Bahdi (University of Windsor), Professor
Michael Lynk (University of Western Ontario) and Omar Burgan. Most of the articles in this thematic
special issue were rst presented at the gathering.
Disclosure statement
No potential conict of interest was reported by the author(sQ6
).
ORCID
Jeremy Wildeman http://orcid.org/0000-0003-3460-5473
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