“Considering that the situation in Palestine and Israel is rapidly deteriorating after nearly 50 years of occupation,” wrote Moderator Cantwell to then-Foreign Affairs Minister Stéphane Dion on March 1, 2016, “the need for Canada to act is urgent.”

The Canada-Israel Free Trade Agreement (CIFTA) is coming before Parliament for ratification during a period of heightened tension and outbreaks of violence in Israel and Palestine. For many years, the United Church has maintained relationships with people and organizations working towards a non-violent end to the conflict. Today, the church echoes partners who say, “Enough.” Enough to violence and to occupation, enough to the despair and discouragement the lack of a viable peace process bring.

Moderator Cantwell asked the government to live out its policy on Palestine and Israel. This includes excluding products made in illegal settlements from beneficial treatment under CIFTA. The Moderator also called for regulations for Canadian retailers that would require them to label goods from illegal settlements differently from products made in Israel, enabling Canadians to make ethical choices about their purchases.

Take Action

Please take action today in support of a just peace in Palestine and Israel.

  1. Write to The Hon. Chrystia Freeland, Minister of Foreign Affairs, in support the Moderator’s letter. Call on the government to:
    • Live out its stated policy on Israel and Palestine.
    • Exclude products made in illegal settlements from beneficial treatment under CIFTA. 
    • Introduce regulations for Canadian retailers that would require them to label goods from the settlements differently from products made in Israel.
      A sample letter is available under Downloads, below.
  2. Share this Take Action on your social media networks. Use the hashtags #UCCan, #UGchoosepeace, #Israel, #Palestine.
  3. Connect with elected officials on social media. Urge them to take action to ask the Canadian government to live out its stated policy on Palestine and Israel.

Background

The United Church of Canada has a long history of working with others to seek peace with justice in Israel and Palestine. This work is rooted in the gospel mandate to be peacemakers and in response to the calls of Palestinian and Israeli partners. Violent acts such as the killing of both Palestinian and Israeli civilians, use of excessive force by Israeli police and army against protesters, extrajudicial killings, and collective punishment are obstacles to a just and lasting peace.

The United Church is asking the federal government to live out its stated policy on Palestine and Israel. That would require Palestine and Israel to adhere to international law without exception, including the cessation by Israel of forcible transfers and home demolitions in East Jerusalem and the West Bank.

A current priority of the federal government is the implementation of CIFTA; it’s coming before Parliament for ratification soon. Currently, because settlement products are not distinguishable from products made in Israel, they receive preferential tariff treatment under CIFTA. The illegal settlements are supported by an economic infrastructure that includes the export to Canada of these products.

Inaccurate and misleading labelling prevents Canadian consumers from making ethical choices about their purchases. The government should introduce regulations for Canadian retailers that would require them to label goods from the settlements differently from products made in Israel. Labelling regulations and guidelines have recently been introduced by all European Union countries, and are currently being considered by other governments.

For more information about current activities, see Unsettling Goods: Choose Peace in Palestine and Israel

Send your letters and e-mails to:

The Hon. Chrystia Freeland
Minister of Foreign Affairs
House of Commons
Ottawa, ON K1A 0A6
E-mail: chrystia.freeland [at] international.gc.ca

Peter Kent
The Conservative Party
E-mail: peter.kent [at] parl.gc.ca

Hélène Laverdière
New Democratic Party
E-mail: helene.laverdiere [at] parl.gc.ca

Elizabeth May
Green Party of Canada
E-mail: elizabeth.may [at] parl.gc.ca

Luc Thériault
Bloc Québécois
E-mail: luc.theriault [at] parl.gc.ca

Your member of Parliament—you can find your MP’s email or postal address by entering your postal code here.

Send copies of your letters and e-mails to:

Christie NeufeldtProgram Coordinator, Public Witness416-231-7680 ext. 4078
1-800-268-3781 ext. 4078
cneufeldt [at] united-church.ca

For more information, contact:

Wendy GichuruProgram Coordinator Africa & Middle East Partnership Program416-231-7680 ext. 4038
1-800-268-3781 ext. 4038
wgichuru [at] united-church.ca