Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird has told a powerful pro-Israel lobby that Palestinians will feel "consequences" from Canada if they pursue the Jewish state at the International Criminal Court.
Baird issued the warning just as the federal government considers whether to end hundreds of millions of dollars in Canadian humanitarian aid to the Palestinians when it expires at the end of this month.
It's certainly a gross understatement to say that the Palestinians are over-matched in their dispute with Israel. A population that has suffered four and a half decades of brutal occupation and has been reduced to AK-47s and home made rockets is up against a country that has a state of the art military machine, including a nuclear arsenal that we all know about but don't discuss.
So what a courageous move it is on the part of our Minister of Foreign Affairs to threaten unidentified consequences should those same Palestinians try to seek redress for their grievances through the International Criminal Court. I'm sure Baird has had sleepless nights over the possible repercussions of publicly siding with the country that already has an overwhelming advantage over its opponent as well as the financial and diplomatic backing of the U.S., a country with the most powerful military on the planet and a permanent veto on the UN Security Council. What a brave stand we've taken!
But Baird's position carries with it an implied concern that Israel has something to fear from the ICC, an institution Canada supports. Surely an effort by the Palestinians to solve its problems by legal means is exactly what you would hope they would do, isn't it? They would be seeking justice peacefully, through the courts, which ought to be exactly what we want. We should be encouraging countries to respect the rule of law, not attempting to intimidate them away from it.
So what's the problem? Does our Department of Foreign Affairs have issues with the ICC that haven't been articulated? Does Baird doubt the legitimacy of the court or fear that it wouldn't rule justly and fairly? If that's the case, shouldn't he make that clear?
Or might it be that he fears if Israel is brought up on charges before the ICC, justice might actually be done?