POLITICS
01/16/2018 17:38 EST | Updated 01/16/2018 17:44 EST

Trudeau Explains Why Canada Abstained From UN Vote On Trump's Jerusalem Gambit

Says he won't compromise values for UN Security Council spot.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau takes part in a round table discussion with The Canadian Press in Ottawa on Jan. 15, 2018.
Sean Kilpatrick/CP
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau takes part in a round table discussion with The Canadian Press in Ottawa on Jan. 15, 2018.

OTTAWA — Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says he is not willing to compromise Canadian values and principles just to get the country a seat at the UN Security Council.

In an interview with The Canadian Press, Trudeau insisted that landing the seat was not so much a "goal" but rather a way to "continue having a positive impact in the world."

"If we have to compromise our values and principles to get the seat, it loses its usefulness," he said.

This idea of using votes in the United Nations to isolate or condemn Israel...is not productive in international relations. And Canada avoids taking sides in that.Prime Minister Justin Trudeau

Trudeau also said Canada's abstention from a UN vote on U.S. President Donald Trump's recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital was about staying above "political games" aimed at isolating Israel.

"We are less interested in grousing and playing politics," he said. "We are more interested in finding solutions and moving forward at a substantial level. And that's why we make the choices we make in terms of voting."

Trudeau said UN member countries regularly file resolutions targeting Israel for political purposes.

"This idea of using votes in the United Nations to isolate or condemn Israel...is not productive in international relations. And Canada avoids taking sides in that."

Trudeau reiterated that Canada won't move its diplomatic corps from Tel Aviv.

Earlier:

"I have always been very clear: our embassy will stay in Tel Aviv," he said. "We do not believe that actions like this (Donald Trump's unilateral decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and to move the embassy there) are useful."

He said Canada is engaged in a "thoughtful and responsible manner" to demonstrate ways to advance the debate in a constructive manner.

The UN General Assembly voted overwhelmingly on Dec. 21 to denounce the U.S. position.

The nonbinding resolution declaring U.S. action on Jerusalem "null and void" was approved 128-9, with the United States, Israel, Guatemala, Honduras, Togo, Micronesia, Nauru, Palau and the Marshall Islands voting against.

Thirty-five countries, including Canada, abstained, and 21 did not vote.

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