The JSpaceCanada Policy Centre is the policy hub of the pro-Israel, pro-peace, pro-democracy movement in Canada, producing original analysis and other resources to inform and educate elected officials, policymakers and advocates on issues related to Canadian policy toward Israel and Palestine. The Policy Centre is committed to convening and amplifying the work of diverse experts who endeavor to drive forward, rather than merely describe the challenges to, diplomacy and conflict resolution in the region.
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OUR POLICY POSITIONS
JSpaceCanada opposes settlement expansion, demolitions of Palestinian homes, lack of freedom of movement, denial of access to water and other forms of “creeping” or de facto annexation in the occupied West Bank.
As a whole, the settlement enterprise has caused immense harm to the safety and well-being of both Israelis and Palestinians. Many settlements have been constructed through the confiscation of private Palestinian land and demolition of Palestinian homes. Settlements have precipitated a system of invasive military control throughout the occupied West Bank consisting of military checkpoints, restricted road access, and physical separation of Palestinian communities. Considerable tension exists between Israeli settlements and adjacent Palestinian communities. This has resulted in overzealous policing and incarceration of Palestinian children and violent terrorist attacks by Israeli settlers against Palestinian civilians. Settlements threaten the viability of a future Palestinian state and are a considerable drain on Israel’s military and financial resources.
Israeli communities beyond the Green Line do not all look the same. These communities include predominately Jewish areas of eastern Jerusalem, including the Jewish Quarter of the Old City of Jerusalem. The majority of Israeli settlers live in large suburbs of Jerusalem, often motivated by favourable housing costs due to government subsidies. There are also many smaller settlements spread throughout the occupied West Bank. Some of these smaller communities are in areas of historical and cultural significance to the Jewish people, such as Hebron which is considered to be the second most important city in the Jewish faith.
Canadian political leaders and governments should clearly and consistently refer to occupied West Bank settlements as illegal, and to the occupied West Bank as “the occupied West Bank,” in accordance with official Canadian government policy, and in lock-step with the United Nations and most other countries, including all of the European Union. This position should be reflected throughout Canadian government policy, including at the United Nations. It is imperative that Canadian tax dollars do not flow to Israeli settlements. Furthermore, the Canadian government should correctly label goods produced in Israeli settlements as “Made in the occupied West Bank.”
They should make clear that Canada will not object to criticism by international organizations of Israeli actions in the occupied territories, while continuing to oppose efforts on the world stage that unfairly or disproportionately target Israel.
JSpaceCanada upholds Israel’s right to self-defence and security.
JSpaceCanada stands firm in our support for the government of Israel’s right and obligation to secure the safety of its citizens. It is vital that efforts to ensure the safety of Israelis are both effective and proportional. Actions taken to bolster Israel’s security cannot jeopardize the human rights of Palestinians. Israel has a legal and moral responsibility to avoid harming Palestinian civilians and should exercise reasonable restraint when attacking terrorist targets embedded within civilian populations.
Palestinian leaders must fulfill security obligations and end their role in inciting acts of violent terror. Palestinian leadership and the Israeli government must cooperate to prevent acts of terror against Israeli civilians and acts of terror against Israeli civilians should never be rewarded with payments from the Palestinian Authority and the Canadian government must ensure safeguards are in place to prevent charitable dollars from supporting settler violence, or terror organizations, within the Occupied Palestinian Territories and Gaza.
JSpaceCanada supports a just and negotiated two-state solution as the best means of addressing Israel’s security concerns. This outcome is the only way to ensure Israel’s long-term security while maintaining its character as a Jewish and democratic state. A negotiated settlement with the Palestinians must contain robust security arrangements that allow for a peaceful Palestinian state to coexist alongside a secure Israel with defensible, universally recognized borders.
JSpaceCanada opposes the global Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement. We advocate for a two-state solution, which differs from the stated BDS goals.
As a tactic, BDS has not succeeded in bringing about any policy change in Israel. As in the case of other countries where sanctions are applied, the BDS movement has emboldened hard-liners, including Benjamin Netanyahu and his right-wing allies. This is why we reject the tactic of cultural boycotts – which target primarily Jewish Israelis, (artists, actors, academics) regardless of their political positions. Many Jewish Israelis are leading efforts to end the occupation, and they need our support.
Despite our opposition to the BDS movement, JSpaceCanada recognizes that the tactic of boycotting is neither violent nor inherently prejudiced. We call for caution with respect to labelling proponents of BDS as antisemitic. We acknowledge the importance of countering BDS in a way that respects the rights of individuals to free speech, non-violent protest, and to criticize the Israeli government. JSpaceCanada welcomes open-minded and well-intentioned discussions with those who are proponents of or sympathetic toward BDS while acknowledging the right of Israel to exist and the right of the Jewish people to self- determination. We consider that the best approach to counter the BDS movement is to achieve progress towards a two-state solution.
We acknowledge the distinction between blanket boycotts on all of Israel and targeted non-violent initiatives that oppose the occupation. We recognize that Israeli settlements within the occupied West Bank are on occupied territory – both according to international and Israeli law.
Therefore, we would not necessarily exclude support for organizations that lawfully discourage the purchase of goods or use of services from settlements. Additionally, we support efforts to label products originating from the settlements; this ensures individuals can make informed decisions as consumers.
JSpaceCanada is committed to a vision of Israel that safeguards democracy and pluralism.
As Canada’s relationship with Israel is based on shared values, Canadian political leaders and governments should oppose and condemn any unilateral moves by any Israeli government that seek to threaten the democratic nature of the state.This includes intimidation of human rights activists, harassment of political parties representing Palestinian citizens, and underhanded financial appropriations by Knesset committees.
JSpaceCanada firmly believes that promoting pluralism within Israeli society is crucial for strengthening the bond between our two nations. Pluralism in Israel enhances democratic values, fosters social cohesion, and ensures equal rights and opportunities for all citizens.
Canada and Israel share a commitment to democratic principles, including freedom of speech, freedom of religion, and respect for human rights. Pluralism is a fundamental component of democracy, as it allows for the peaceful coexistence of diverse perspectives and beliefs. By promoting pluralism within Israeli society, we uphold our shared democratic values and reinforce the foundation of our alliance.
Canada places a strong emphasis on the protection of minority rights and the promotion of inclusivity. Supporting pluralism in Israeli society ensures that minority groups, including Arab-Israelis/Palestinian citizens of Israel, religious minorities, and LGBTQ+ individuals, have equal rights, opportunities, and representation. By advocating for the protection and respect of minority rights in Israel, Canada reaffirms its commitment to inclusivity and human rights, and calls on Israeli leadership to do the same, on the basis of our shared values.
JSpaceCanada supports a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
We believe that Israelis and Palestinians must negotiate the details of a peace agreement that will result in two states, with support from Canada and other international allies. The borders of these states must be based on the 1967 lines, including the removal of most settlements and with any changes in those lines achieved through mutually agreed-on land swaps. An agreement must enable and support the emergence of a state of Palestine that is maximally contiguous and politically and economically viable, with its capital in East Jerusalem.
Despite obstacles on the ground, a two-state solution is still possible. and polling consistently demonstrates that a plurality of both Israelis and Palestinians prefer the two-state solution.
JSpaceCanada supports Canada’s role as an important source of aid for Palestinians. The Canadian government has provided over 100 million CAD in aid to humanitarian organizations providing relief for Palestinians living in the occupied West Bank and Gaza and should continue to provide aid into the future.
Canadian governments and political leaders should broaden and diversify the scope of aid to Palestinian society. This includes funding of peace-building efforts within Palestinian communities, Israel, and here in Canada. We also encourage the Canadian government to join several EU countries in the occupied West Bank Protection Consortium, focused on providing emergency relief, resilience building, and advocacy.
The situation in Gaza continues to be one of the most complex, explosive and tragic components of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
The years since Israel’s 2005 disengagement from Gaza, and the subsequent 2006 rise to power of Hamas, have seen several rounds of full-fledged military confrontation between Hamas and Israel. These clashes have had devastating consequences for Gaza’s civilian population, economy and basic infrastructure, contributing to one of the world’s most horrifying humanitarian crises. Israeli civilians all along the southern border and beyond have been subjected to indiscriminate rocket fire and terror attacks, causing economic hardship, trauma, and strife for Israeli communities. Thousands of Palestinians and over one hundred Israeli soldiers and civilians have been killed or wounded.
Multiple parties bear responsibility for Gaza’s ongoing humanitarian crisis. Under the authoritarian rule of Hamas, Gaza residents face severe restrictions on freedom of expression, association and assembly. Hamas is a terrorist organization under Canadian law and refuses to acknowledge Israel’s right to exist. Hamas militants have used the territory to launch rocket attacks and terrorist operations against Israeli civilians.
In response, Israel and Egypt have enforced a strict blockade on the enclave. Israel controls Gaza’s airspace and maritime access, as well as a large buffer zone within the strip. Additionally, Israel has used its control of Gaza’s population registry to keep many Palestinian families separated between the occupied West Bank and Gaza. Israel controls Gaza’s major border crossings and maintains influence over a smaller crossing on the Egyptian border. Israel continues to enforce arbitrary restrictions on Palestinian life and commerce within Gaza.
Palestinian and Israeli political leaders, with support from Canada and other international allies must work to bring security and relief to the region.. Israeli authorities must take meaningful steps to improve the situation in Gaza. This includes lifting arbitrary quotas on agricultural products, lifting maritime restrictions that limit Palestinian fishing activities, and easing restrictions on trade and commerce. This also includes facilitating reunification of families split between the occupied West Bank and Gaza.
A policy solution for the crisis in Gaza must also account for Israel’s legitimate security concerns. Hamas must renounce violence and cease rocket attacks on Israeli communities. Ultimately, investments in the revival of the Gaza strip are the best means of ensuring Israel’s security.