Reflecting on Israel journey
This column is about a recent Parliamentary mission to Israel. However, before I get to that, a couple unrelated housekeeping notes:
I will be hosting a number of policy roundtable discussions over the summer. If you are interested in participating, please contact my office as soon as possible. In general, given the Parliamentary recess, summer is a good time to reach out if you’d like to get together or discuss specific issues or concerns.
I have appreciated reading comments on the proposed change to the national anthem. One note of clarification, though: Some seem to be under the impression that the anthem has changed already. The proposed change has neither passed the senate nor received royal assent. It will be difficult to predict what approach will be taken by the senate, to this or any other bill. For now at least, the official wording remains unchanged.
I just got back from a week-long trip in Israel. I met members of Israel’s Parliament (called the Knesset), leaders in Israel’s highly innovative tech sector, Canadian diplomats, and academics. I also spent time in Ramallah meeting with Palestinian representatives, and, received briefings overlooking the Syrian and Lebanese borders. (On the Syrian border, we could hear periodic shooting).
This trip was eye-opening in many ways, far more than I could fit into one column. But here are a few cursory initial thoughts from this trip:
Israel is much more than the conflict it is involved in, and Israel is relatively safe. Whether you are interested in contemporary politics, Jewish and Christian history, technology and innovation, or simply exploring great beaches and vibrant nightlife, Israel has it all. It is a great place to spend time.
Secondly, the continuation of conflict is far from inevitable. Israel has sacrificed to make durable peace agreements with Egypt and Jordan. Israel has long-standing relations with Turkey, and cooperates unofficially with many other nations in the region. Peace and cooperation between Jews and Muslims is not only possible, it is happening. When it comes to countering Iran, Israel has far more in common with most of its Muslim neighbours than with many Western politicians.
Thirdly, a final peace settlement between Israel and Palestine is unlikely soon. Both sides should commit to direct negotiations, with a final settlement in mind, but also to make immediate improvements which make peace more possible. Improvements, like halting benefits by the Palestinian Authority to the families of suicide bombers, ending incitement against Israel in Palestinian education, reducing delays at key checkpoints, and working to improve Palestinian access to water. These changes would not end terrorism, but they would help bolster opposition to it within Palestinian society, and increase the chances of a peace agreement working. These incremental changes are achievable through direct negotiations.
Canada’s continuing engagement and cooperation with Israel, in matters of international peace and security, but also in the economic sphere, is very important. Increased trade and economic and security cooperation will benefit Israelis, Palestinians and Canadians.
Garnett Genuis is the member of Parliament for Sherwood Park-Fort Saskatchewan. He can be contacted by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 780-467-4944. His office is located in the Park Place Professional Centre, Unit No. 214. Genuis was first elected in October 2015.
Published: Thursday, July 14, 2016