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Canada's Green Party add BDS support to official policies

Green Party leader Elizabeth May [AFP]

Date of publication: 8 August, 2016

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Members of Canada's Green Party voted to add support to the boycott, divestment and sanctions against Israel to their official party policies.
Members of Canada's Green Party voted to add support to the boycott, divestment and sanctions [BDS] against Israel to their official party policies at their convention on Sunday, despite the party's leader opposing the resolution.

This decision came after a heated debate on the contentious issue, which was brought forth in a resolution by the party's shadow justice critic Dimitri Lascaris.

Lascaris set the tone for the discussion by precluding the exchange with a mention of notable international figures who support BDS, including Archbishop Desmond Tutu and physicist Stephen Hawking.

Due to the opposition expressed by some Greens at the convention, an amendment was tabled to change the resolution, stating that the Greens are for "effective means" for a peaceful solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, which "may include facilitating negotiations, use of diplomatic sanctions and consumer action by concerned citizenry".

However, this was struck down as "out of order" by party president Ken Melamed, who argued that the amendment changed the resolution too drastically. After going to a vote, Melamed's ruling was sustained.

The Green Party's decision to back BDS goes against the prevailing mood in Canada's parliament, which voted strongly in favour in February to condemn supporters of the movement.

Green leader Elizabeth May was not present at the parliamentary vote, but has herself said that she prefers "action that can work".

May also said in a policy workshop session on Saturday that she would prefer not to be the leader of a pro-BDS party.

The decision by Canada's Greens to support BDS came two days after a resolution was passed to revoke the charitable status of organisations who are complicit in human rights violations.

Originally, the resolution was specifically targeted at the Jewish National Fund for "institutional discrimination against non-Jewish citizens of Israel," however this was later changed after May forwarded an amendment against naming a specific group.

"We knew it was going to be emotional. People are very passionate," party president Ken Melamed said, according to Canada's National Post.

"What we want to do is develop policy that is broad-based and not targeted at one particular organisation," he continued.

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