Apartheid Economics: Canada-Israel Free Trade Agreement

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Interview with Kole Kilibarda of the Coalition Against Israeli Apartheid
conducted by Stefan Christoff for Fighting FTAs.

http://tadamon.resist.ca/index.php/post/1235

Canada's first trade accord signed outside the western hemisphere was with
Israel in 1997. International trade relations with Canada, the U.S. and the
European Union are essential components to Israel's economy, creating external
markets for Israeli products to be sold, while embedding Israeli economic
activity within the international market. Today, Palestinians are appealing for
an international campaign of boycott, divestment and sanctions on Israel, in
response to the ongoing occupation of Palestine defined by a military enforced
apartheid facing the Palestinian people.

Throughout the Middle East a strong campaign against the normalization of
economic and political relations with Israel remains. Kole Kilibarda is an
organizer with the Coalition Against Israeli Apartheid in Toronto, which is
campaigning against the Israel-Canada free trade agreement. Kilibarda explains
the details of the Canada-Israel trade agreement, while offering a critique on
Canada's interest in maintaining a trade accord with Israel.

Stefan Christoff: Can you provide a break-down on your critique of the
Canada-Israel Free Trade Agreement, which the Coalition Against Israeli
Apartheid -- the organization you work with -- is currently campaigning
against.

Kole Kilibarda: Canada-Israel Free Trade Agreement was initialed on January
1st, 1997, the first agreement that Canada signed with a trade partner outside
the western hemisphere. Since 1997 the trade volume between Canada and Israel
has been increasing.

Currently the bilateral trade volume stands at around one-billion dollars.
Canada has tried to peruse additional free-trade agreements with other
countries in the region, although today the Canada-Israel trade agreement is
the central trade agreement in the region.

Also there is the Canadian-Palestinian Framework for Economic Cooperation and
Trade that exists, although this is a dormant document and there is little
bilateral trade with the Palestinian Authority. Since the Palestinian elections
in 2005 economic relations have been basically frozen. A large disconnection
exists between Canada's trade relations with Israel and with the Palestinian
Authority.

Importantly the Canada-Israel Free Trade Agreement aims to legitimize Israeli
territorial control over all of historic Palestine. Within the body of the
trade agreement, there is an implicit legitimization of Israel's occupation
through defining Israel as the territory where Israel's custom laws are applied
[which technically includes the West Bank and Gaza Strip given Israel is the
occupying power]. Wording within the Canada-Israel trade agreement is very
different from the European Union's trade agreement with Israel which
explicitly doesn't include the territories that Israel occupies.

Canada's trade agreement with Israel applies to the entire territory of
historic Palestine, including the territories that Israel has occupied since
1967, the West Bank and Gaza, as Canada's trade agreement is based on the areas
that Israel maintains territorial control over, not on internationally
recognized borders.

Also the Canada-Israel trade agreement includes a point which specifies that
both trade partners must pursue their obligations under the United Nation's
Charter, which aims to maintain "international peace and security". Between
2000 and 2005 Canada voted to censor Israeli behavior 115 times at the U.N.,
despite this fact the trade agreement continues. Essentially this means that
the Canadian government is running counter to their own obligations under the
agreement, which specifies that the trade agreement is contingent on respect
for international law by both Canada and Israel. Basically Canada is condoning
Israel's multiple violations of international law.

Much of the agreement is also rooted in Canada's economic relationship with the
U.S., as one of the main points of the agreement is to liberalize trade with
the U.S., as Israeli products transiting through the U.S. -- with minor
modifications done in the U.S. -- would also be treated as Israeli products and
fall under the terms of the Canada-Israel trade agreement. In certain cases
this agreement is more liberal than NAFTA, in other cases it's not, however it
is an opening for Israeli-U.S. products to enter Canada.

Stefan Christoff: Can you discuss the Canada-Israel Free Trade Agreement within
the context of Canada's economic interests in the Middle East, as the
government is currently pushing additional bilateral trade agreements in the
region.

Kole Kilibarda: Canadian political interests in the Middle East have increased
quite broadly in recent years, which directly relates to trade policy. The
Canada-Israel trade agreement is now being utilized as a launching point for
the Canadian government to peruse additional trade accords with pro-western
authoritarian regimes in countries like Jordan and Egypt, countries which
already have trade relations with Israel.

Israel is a strategically important trade partner in the region because it's
the only country in the area that has trade agreements with the E.U., the U.S.
and Canada. So Israel is a starting point for regional penetration, in terms of
trade policy.

Clearly Canada is also involved in contracting out military related work in
Iraq and also deeply involved in Afghanistan, so cementing a strong regional
alliance with Israel -- essentially a settler outpost of western interests in
the Middle East -- is very important for Canada.

Stefan Christoff: Can you talk about other trade accords or development
agreements between Israel and Canada?

Kole Kilibarda: In terms of direct defense-industrial ties, Canada and Israel
have initialed an agreement called the Canada-Israel Industrial Research and
Development Fund, a yearly fund that amounts to about three-million dollars a
year, providing seed money to joint Israeli-Canadian projects.

Among projects funded by this agreement are a number of defense-industrial
projects. For example this joint Canada-Israel program is funding the
development of the Guardium - Autonomous Security Vehicle, which involves
LAHAV, Israel Aerospace Industries.

This military vehicle is designed to patrol border fortifications, like the
Israel's Apartheid wall in Palestine, or the walls being currently constructed
on the Mexico-U.S. border, built to neutralize "terrorist threats" according to
the official description. Basically it's a kill-vehicle that's robotically
operated to patrol the boundaries that militarized states such as Israel and
the U.S. are trying to protect from resistance movements.

Development surrounding this particular military vehicle points to the type of
collaboration that is happening, described as "mutually beneficial relations",
between Canada and Israel under the Canada-Israel free-trade agreement and the
Canada-Israel Industrial Research and Development Fund.

Stefan Christoff: Could you expand on why the organization you are involved in,
the Coalition against Israeli Apartheid, finds trade relations, or specifically
the Canada-Israel Free Trade Agreement, an important point to organize around
in Canada? Often the political message heard within the Palestine solidarity
movement directly addresses Israel's military occupation of Palestine however
details on economic policies are seldom addressed. In this context could you
explain why the Coalition against Israeli Apartheid has chosen to focus on
trade relations between Canada-Israel?

Kole Kilibarda: The Coalition Against Israeli Apartheid sees this agreement as
particularly threatening is because the agreement legitimizing Israeli
occupation, while concretizing Israeli apartheid, while deepening the
involvement of Canadian industry in the suppression of Palestinian human
rights. Clearly this agreement is not acceptable in the context of the daily
reality of Israeli apartheid; defined by military occupation and war crimes
targeting the Palestinian people.

One of the first articles of the Canada-Israel trade agreement outlines the
conditions of trade with Israel as applying to "the territory where its customs
laws are applied," due to Israel's military occupation includes the Palestinian
territories. This point is contrary to international law, it legitimizes
Israel's occupation and control over Palestine.

Also in addressing this particular agreement between Canada-Israel it.s
essential to highlight and recognize that this agreement is part of a broader
regional push from Canada, also from the U.S. to expand economic activity and
investment in the Middle East, as best illustrated in the aggressive pursuit of
trade partnerships or investment agreements throughout the Middle East with
authoritarian regimes.

The Canada-Israel Free Trade Agreement is just the entry point to a broad range
of province to state agreements, between Canadian provinces and Israel,
including Ontario, Alberta, Manitoba and Quebec which all have agreements with
the Israeli government, all which are important accords to organize against.

Additionally it must be noted that while bilateral trade between Canada and
Israel is now at one-billion dollars annually, overall direct investment
between the countries stands between three to four billion dollars. Clearly an
expansion of the Israel-Canada trade agreement at a national level, also at a
provincial level is being pushed.

* This interview was originally produced by journalist Stefan Christoff for the
Fighting FTAs project, an international project that provides a global picture
on free trade agreements (FTAs), and insight into struggles being waged by
social movements fighting back.

Info: http://www.fightingftas.org

Comments

Re: Apartheid Economics: Canada-Israel Free Trade Agreement

As the international Jewish community increasingly becomes critical of Israeli policy and Zionist Extremism, the pressure on politicians to distance themselves from israel will become the way to curry favour with 'the Jewish vote'.

Sanctions are not far off.

Re: Apartheid Economics: Canada-Israel Free Trade Agreement

All the French speakers are shoved into one province- Quebec. At least they aren't killing the English speakers. Sadly, this is one of the more successful binational states in the world today

Arabs, Left-Wing Extremists Uproot Jewish Vineyard

Yes, its wrong and it highlights the Palestinians' inability to live in peace with Jews as well as Leftists' general wrong headedness.