Open letter urges Canada to recognize the human rights implications of CIFTA on the Palestinian people
Amnesty International has written an open letter addressed to the Prime Minister of Canada, the Right Honourable Justin Trudeau, and the Minister of International Trade and Diversification, the Honourable James Gordon Carr, regarding the absence of distinction between products made on illegal Israeli settlements and other Israeli products in the amendments to the Canada-Israel Free Trade Agreement Implementation Act (Bill C-85). Amnesty International is concerned about the consequences this has on the human rights situation of Palestinians living in the occupied territories.
The three-page letter calls on the Canadian government to uphold its duties under international law by ensuring that settlement goods are barred from Canada and business is not benefiting from human rights violations caused by the ongoing occupation.
Bill C-85 was introduced in the House of Commons in October 2018 and adopted on February 8, 2019. The amendments to Bill C-85 make no distinction between products made on illegal Israeli settlements and other Israeli products. Failure to make this distinction is destructive to the human rights situation for the Palestinian people living in the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT).
Amnesty International’s letter raises concerns about the impact of this trade agreement on the human rights situation for the Palestinians living in the OPT, and specifically, the expansion and viability of the illegal Israeli settlements on Palestinian land.
The Canadian government’s adoption of Bill C-85 implies that Canada is not only accepting the illegal construction of settlement homes and infrastructure on Palestinian land, but is actively contributing to Israeli and international businesses in settlements which have established a thriving economy to sustain their presence and expansion. This “settlement enterprise”, which relies on unlawfully appropriated Palestinian resources, including land, water and minerals, to produce goods that are exported and sold for private profit, is inherently illegal and causes tremendous harm to Palestinians in the OPT.
Profiting from an Illegal Occupation
Hundreds of millions of dollars’ worth of settlement goods are exported internationally each year, providing resources for sustaining illegal Israeli settlements and perpetuating grave violations. Our recent report ‘Destination: Occupation’ documents some of the ways settlement businesses (such as those related to tourism) have had devastating consequences for Palestinian communities.
Through the adoption of Bill C85, the Canadian government is facilitating and contributing to the financial growth of the illegal settlements. In doing so, the Canadian government fails to meet its obligation under international law not to recognize as lawful an illegal situation. Canada must take action to stop the financial support and expansion of settlements and ban settlement goods from entering its markets.
For over the past 50 years, Israel has demolished tens of thousands of Palestinian properties and displaced large swathes of the population to build homes and infrastructure to illegally settle its own population in the occupied territories. It has also diverted Palestinian natural resources such as water and agricultural land for settlement use.
Israel has also used tourism as an opportunity to strengthen its occupation and control of the Palestinian people. Corporations like Airbnb, Booking.com, Expedia and TripAdvisor list numerous hotels, B&Bs, attractions and tours in Israeli settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT). They do so despite knowing that Israel’s settlements are illegal under international law, and a war crime.
Destination: Occupation is part of Amnesty’s Occupation @50 campaign, which was launched in June 2017, the 50 year anniversary of the Israeli occupation of the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, including East Jerusalem. Occupation @50 made a bold, new call on states to ban Israeli settlement goods from entering their markets, and to stop companies domiciled in their territories from operating in settlements or trading in their goods.
Destination: Occupation aims at covering the online tourism industry and its role in helping maintain and grow illegal Israeli settlements. The report draws on Amnesty International’s extensive research into Israel’s human rights violations in the OPT over decades and examines the operations of four international digital tourism companies: Airbnb Inc (operator of Airbnb), Booking.com BV (Booking.com), Expedia Group Inc. (Expedia and Hotels.com), and TripAdvisor Inc. (TripAdvisor). It exposes their activities related to Israeli settlements in the OPT and how these activities contribute to and benefit from Israel’s violations of international humanitarian and human rights law.
TAKE ACTION: Tell the Canadian government to ban settlement products and stop its companies from operating in the settlements:
LEARN MORE: Read Amnesty International’s recommendations from the report on digital tourism in the illegal Israeli settlements:
WATCH: View Amnesty International’s video on tourism in illegal Israeli settlements