OTTAWA—Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says a recent vote by Canada to support a U.N. resolution endorsing Palestinian self-determination is not a shift in Canada’s policy against singling out Israel for criticism on the international stage.
Trudeau made the remarks at a menorah lighting on Parliament Hill Monday, where about 100 parliamentarians gathered to mark the upcoming Jewish holiday of Hanukkah.
Trudeau said he met before the event with Jewish community leaders who expressed their concerns about the United Nations vote in late November. He said he heard similar concerns from other parties and from members of his own caucus.
The resolution was part of a group of motions brought every year at the United Nations which critics say singled out Israel for trouble between Israel and Palestinians.
Canada has voted no for more than a decade on the resolutions but Trudeau said Canada felt it had to change course on that one resolution, in order to counter threats to a two-states solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
“I hear you,” Trudeau told those gathered around the menorah. “I understand that many of you were alarmed by this decision. The government felt that it was important to reiterate its commitment to a two-states-for-two-peoples solution at a time when its prospects appear increasingly under threat.
“But let me be very clear. Our enduring friendship with Israel remains. We will continue to stand strongly against the singling out of Israel at the UN. Canada remains a steadfast supporter of Israel and Canada will always defend Israel’s right to live in security. And we will always, always, speak up against anti-Semitism at home and abroad. You have my word.”
Canada was roundly criticized for the November vote by Israel, the United States and many within Canada, with several critics accusing Canada of voting with the majority in order to secure a UN Security Council seat next year.
Canada returned to its practice of voting against other resolutions critical of Israel in votes taken this month.
Trudeau and Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer both denounced recent incidents of anti-Semitism aimed at Jewish students at York University, the University of Toronto, and McGill University.
“They were made to feel uncomfortable because of their identity, because of their support of Israel,” he said.
“Calling into question Israel’s right to exist or the right of Jewish people to self-determination is promoting anti-Semitism and that’s unacceptable. We will never, ever be silent in the face of such acts. Hatred has no place in Canada and we will continue to condemn it.”