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Justin Trudeau and the Federal Liberals Are Preparing to Reduce Canada's Support for Israel

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Justin Trudeau and the Liberal Party have not decided to throw Israel under the bus, yet. For now, the Trudeau Liberals would prefer Israel move from a front seat on the bus. And take a seat more in the middle of the bus.

For the last several weeks I have had extensive discussions with Jewish and non Jewish Liberal supporters of Justin Trudeau.

I have also been directed to several articles, interviews and speeches written and given by several Middle East writers, experts and prominent Federal Liberals which apparently have influenced prominent Federal Liberals including Justin Trudeau, the "about to be crowned" new leader of the Federal Liberal Party.

As a result of these discussions, and these materials, I believe that Trudeau and the Federal Liberals have developed the following approach as to how the Federal Liberals under Trudeau would treat the ongoing Israel/Palestinian impasse.

This approach is a return to the balanced approach of Canada to Middle East politics. In other words, Trudeau et al want to return to the Liberals' traditional honest broker role in the Mideast. Made famous by the former Liberal Prime Minster Lester B. Pearson, and winner of the Nobel Peace Prize.

This approach could be summarized as follows. Under Trudeau, the Liberals still believe in a two-state solution. One state for Israel and one state for the Palestinians, in the West Bank and in Gaza.

The Trudeau Liberals believe that Canada should be a friend of Israel. But as a friend of Israel, the Trudeau Liberals believe that Canada is entitled to disagree with Israel's policies vis-a-vis the Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank and the continuation of the illegal West Bank settlements.

The Trudeau Liberals still believe in the continued existence of Israel as a predominantly Jewish state. At least for now.

Where Trudeau differs from Harper, is that Trudeau and his fellow Liberals appear to be influenced by Paul Heinbecker, former Canada Ambassador to the United Nations, who is adamant that all the Israeli settlements in the West Bank must be dismantled. He and the Trudeau Liberals believe that these settlements are illegal and contrary to several UN Resolutions.

Accordingly, Trudeau and the Liberals want Israel to return to its pre-1967 borders, with few adjustments.
The Harper approach is more flexible and generous to the Israelis with respect to the West Bank settlements that have been created.

Secondly, Trudeau and his Liberals, based on their belief of the illegality of these West Bank settlements, want Israel to stop the expansion of any more settlements, as a pre-condition to Palestine Authority President Abbas re-engaging with Israel in peace talks.

This position is in contrast to the Harper government's position that peace negotiations should be commenced without any preconditions.

Furthermore, contrary to the Harper approach that the only solution to the current Israeli-Palestinian gridlock, is direct peace negotiations, between the parties themselves, Trudeau and the Liberals believe that the UN should play a more active role and Canada should play a more active role in the United Nations.

For the Trudeau Liberals, Canada has lost considerable international stature because of its one-sided support of Israel. Which they cite as the primary reason for Canada's failure in 2010 to secure a United Nations seat in the Security Council.

Ironically, this is the same view of Prime Minister Harper. http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/politics/canada-condemns-un-hatefest/article1315601/

But from a different perspective.

The Conservatives under Harper, view Canada's rejection by the majority in the UN General Assembly, due to Canada's unwavering support of Israel, as a badge of courage.

To the Trudeau Liberals, Canada's failure in this regard is a badge of international embarrassment.

This latter view has been recently and forcefully articulated by former Liberal Prime Minister Jean Chretien, who, together with many Liberal Chretienites, still have considerable influence within the Federal Liberal Party.

In other words, contrary to the Harper approach, the Trudeau Liberals are more amenable to Canada being supportive of the Palestinian quest for observer-state status at the United Nations.

Also as part of the balanced approach, Trudeau and the Liberals want to reach out to the current government in Gaza, being the Hamas government.

This is also contrary to the current Harper government with respect to Hamas. The Harper government treats Hamas as a terrorist organization.

The Trudeau Liberals believe that this approach is self-defeating. My sources advise that a new Trudeau government will try to find a diplomatic way, either directly or indirectly through the UN, to reach out to Hamas and to assert itself in the discussion in re-introducing Canada's balanced and even-handed honest broker role.

The Trudeau Liberals believe that Hamas was democratically elected to represent the Palestinian people in Gaza and no two-state solution can be successfully and effectively accomplished between Israel and the Palestinians without the approval of the Hamas government in Gaza and the support of the Palestinian people in Gaza.

These Trudeau Liberals also cite the Globe and Mail editorial of September 9, 2012, entitled, " Better To Talk to Your Enemies". In that editorial the Globe criticized the Harper government for closing down the Canadian embassy in Tehran, Iran. The Globe concluded, " It is precisely because it (Iran) is a threat to its own people and those in other countries that Canada should continue to talk with Iran and not retreat from its international responsibilities."

Similarly, the Trudeau Liberals do not believe that Hamas is a threat to its own people and those in other countries, (ie Israel) and regardless, Canada should reach out to Hamas and thus Canada should not retreat from its international responsibilities.

Justin Trudeau believes that Prime Minster Harper is a divisive force domestically, and he believes that Harper has made Canada a divisive force in the Middle East by Canada's very strong pro Israeli position. http://www.winnipegjewishreview.com/article_detail.cfm?id=499&sec=4

Justin Trudeau and the Liberals see that the Harper Government appears about 80% in favour of Israel and about 20% in favour of the Palestinians. Justin Trudeau wants to move Canada away from being so pro Israeli to being a good friend to Israel and to being a good friend to the Palestinians, more of a 50/50 split. Or perhaps even a 55/45 split in favour of the Palestinians.

Shades of Lester B. Pearson. It looks like Trudeau wants to take Canada back to the future.