Open letter urges Canadian government to explicitly oppose West Bank annexation plan

The Right Honourable Justin Trudeau

Prime Minister of Canada

80 Wellington Street

Ottawa, Ontario

K1A 0A2

June 3, 2020

Dear Prime Minister,

We are writing this Open Letter, on behalf of Amnesty International’s supporters across Canada and also reflective of the concerns of the entire global movement of Amnesty International, to urge you to take a much stronger position of unequivocal opposition to Israeli Prime Minster Benjamin Netanyahu’s plan to annex a large part of the West Bank, land that is part of Occupied Palestinian Territory.  

Prime Minister Netanyahu is expected to finalize this in the coming weeks. Such a step would violate the UN Charter, jus cogens norms of international law, and international humanitarian legal obligations. It would certainly stand as well to deepen and exacerbate decades of severe and entrenched human rights violations against Palestinians living in the West Bank. It is urgent and vital for Canada to express firm, explicit and public condemnation of this move.

Notably a range of other governments, United Nations experts, including Canadian law professor and UN Special Rapporteur for human rights in the Occupied Palestinian Territory Michael Lynk, and numerous international, Israeli and Palestinian human rights organizations have all forcefully and clearly expressed opposition to Prime Minister Netanyahu’s intended annexation, highlighting the many ways it would directly violate as well as undermine numerous international legal obligations and set back the search for peace in the region.  

We have also taken note of media coverage of a letter to you from a group of 58 eminent former Canadian cabinet ministers, ambassadors to Israel, diplomats and government officials, raising considerable alarm about Prime Minister Netanyahu’s plan and calling on your government to register its opposition.  Their advice, based on their vast expertise and experience, should be given very high consideration.  

It is disappointing that up until this time, with the prospect of annexation drawing closer, clear Canadian opposition has not yet been forthcoming. We have noted the reiteration of Canada’s “commitment to international law and the rules-based international order” in your statement on May 18 welcoming the formation of a new government in Israel through an agreement reached between Prime Minister Netanyahu and Alternate Prime Minister Gantz. 

We have also seen that you referred to “Canada’s commitment to a two-state solution resulting from negotiations between the parties” in your discussions with these two leaders on May 18 and 19.  

While some commentators have taken these statements possibly to be reflective of an implicit indication that Canada would be opposed to any annexation, it is far from explicit and clear.

This is not a time for subtlety, ambiguity or nuance.  This initiative to annex West Bank lands was given a boost by President Trump’s self-described “deal of the century” peace proposal announced in January, 2020. Amnesty International has made it clear that the Trump Administration’s plan would serve only to worsen human rights violations and enshrine the entrenched impunity that has fueled decades of war crimes, crimes against humanity and other grave violations.  

The Canadian government should be pursuing all possible steps to address and bring an end to the human rights violations caused by decades of Israeli occupation and unlawful settlements in the West Bank. In fact international humanitarian law obliges us to do so. To maintain an ambiguous position with respect to this plan for annexation runs counter to those legal obligations and would be an abdication of the international human rights leadership required and expected of Canada at this time. We look forward to hearing of Canada’s firm, public opposition to West Bank annexation in the very near future.


Alex Neve                                            France-Isabelle Langlois

Secretary General                               Directrice générale

Amnesty International Canada           Amnistie internationale Canada francophone

(English branch)


  1.         The Honourable François-Philippe Champagne, Minister of Foreign Affairs