Terry Milewski is a rare specimen of an endangered species, a journalist. He questioned the Prime Minister today on his decision to break with his G8 colleagues and obstruct the mention of pre-1967 borders in a joint statement regarding Israel. According to Reuters, a European diplomat noted that, "The Canadians were really very adamant, even though Obama expressly referred to 1967 borders in his speech last week." I salute Terry Milewski and his challenge to the Prime Minister's inconsistency with Canadian policy and our allies.
TM: We've supported since 1967 Resolution 242 which calls for Israeli withdrawal from territories occupied in the '67 war. Canada supports two states. My question is where are on earth are these two states supposed to be if not, as per Canadian policy long-established, in the West Bank and Gaza, and in Israel proper, with agreed swaps around the 1967 lines? What's your problem with that?
SH: I didn't suggest there was a problem. Canadian policy, as you say, Terry, on these issues, is long-standing. I think it's important that any statement on the Middle East have balanced references to the various positions. I think the statement that was agreed to is a balanced statement. I think if you're going to get into other elements, then obviously I would like to see reference to elements that were also in President Obama's speech: such as, for instance, the fact that one of the states must be a Jewish state, the fact that the Palestinian state must be demilitarized. I think it's important that any statement on this question be balanced, as was President Obama's.
The G8 statement is notable for its vagueness. There is nothing specific about the borders. There is no prohibition on the building of new settlements or extending existing settlements in the West Bank. There is no mention of Hamas, a coalition with Fatah, acts of terror, or military incursions. There is no statement of criteria for IMF and World Bank support in anticipation of the Paris donors' conference.
Except for one thing: a "demand" to release Gilad Shalit. On this one point, the G8 could be clear, specific, emphatic, and unflinching. Perhaps there is an inverse relationship between these attributes and the substantiveness of the G8's demands, requests, recommendations, or suggestions.
You can find the Deauville Declaration here. Or here.
The statement on Israel from the preamble:
"We are convinced that the historic changes throughout the region make the solution of the Israeli-Palestine conflict through negotiations more important, not less. We urge both parties to engage without delay in substantive talks with a view to concluding a framework agreement on all final status issues."
The fuller statement on Israel:
"67. We are convinced that the historic changes throughout the region make the solution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict through negotiations more important, not less. Aspirations of the peoples in the region need to be heeded including that of the Palestinians for a viable and sovereign State and that of Israelis for security and regional integration. The time to resume the Peace Process is now.
a. Negotiations are the only way toward a comprehensive and lasting resolution to the conflict. The framework for these negotiations is well known. We urge both parties to return to substantive talks with a view to concluding a framework agreement on all final status issues. To that effect, we express our strong support for the vision of Israeli-Palestinian peace outlined by President Obama on May 19, 2011.
b. We appreciate the efforts and the progress made by the Palestinian Authority and the leadership of President Abbas and Prime Minister Fayyad as they are building a viable State as recently commended by the IMF, the World Bank and the ad hoc liaison Committee.
c. We look forward to the prospect of the second donors’ conference for Palestine in Paris, also in view of the resumption of negotiations.
d. We call on Israel and the Palestinian Authority to abide by existing co-operation agreements and to abstain from unilateral measures that could hamper progress and further reforms. We call for the easing of the situation in Gaza.
e. We demand the unconditional release of the abducted soldier Gilad Shalit without delay."
If you're wondering, as I did, who Gilad Shalit is, you can find out here. He is an IDF soldier who was abducted by Hamas in a 2006 cross-border raid. Importantly, he holds French and Israeli citizenship. He has been likened, implausibly, to Nelson Mandela in a cynical inversion of the apartheid dynamic of Israel and its occupied territories.