Ukraine peace talks inch closer; Canada must sanction Israeli War Cabinet

UKRAINE UPDATE: The need for peace negotiations is finally starting to be addressed

The Russia-Ukraine War Report Card, April 9, 2024

April 9 update: No significant territorial change. Zelensky … signed law lowering draft age to 25. Net territorial change in the past month: Russia +29 square miles.

It remains unclear how Ukraine can survive 2024 if Russia is outproducing the West by more than three-to-one in shells and has more troops at its disposal.” – Matthew Blackburn, NUPI

A comprehensive summary of Ukraine’s mounting battlefield difficulties can be found in a  Quincy Institute paper entitled The Diplomatic Path to a Secure Ukraine (George Beebe and Anatol Lieven, 16 February 2024), at pages 8-17.  (We will discuss this paper in further detail below.)

Russia’s alleged war aims beyond Ukraine

Harvard’s Stephen Walt wrote in a recent Foreign Policy article:

Western officials aren’t sure when Russia is going to go after NATO, but a growing chorus seems to believe a wider war is inevitable if Moscow is not decisively defeated.

He continues:

The plain fact is that none of these people know what Putin or Russia will do if the war in Ukraine ends with Russia in control of some of Ukraine’s pre-2022 territory….

It’s possible that Putin does have vast ambitions and will try to follow a costly success in Ukraine with a new attack somewhere else. But it is also entirely possible that his ambitions do not extend beyond what Russia has won—at enormous cost—and that he has no need or desire to gamble for more.

Professor Walt is at pains to point out that he is in favour of continued military aid for Ukraine and for NATO’s European members to bolster deterrence by building up their own conventional forces.

What bothers him is

the reflexive threat inflation that inspires such pronouncements, along with the tendency to treat these gloomy forecasts as if they were established truths, and to portray anyone who questions them as naïve, a pro-Russian stooge, or both.

Professor Walt asks:

Isn’t it just as likely that Russia’s difficulties in Ukraine will make Putin far more cautious in the future, even if his army eventually ekes out a Pyrrhic victory?

Walt points out that viewing Putin as an “unappeasable serial aggressor” impedes efforts to end the war and spare Ukraine further damage. It also means that the fighting must continue until Ukraine regains all its territory. However, that outcome, in his view:

seems increasingly unlikely, even if additional Western support is forthcoming.

Professor Walter concludes:

To repeat: I’m not saying that I know what Putin will do—I don’t. Nor do I think we should simply assume that his intentions are benign or that he will reliably uphold the status quo in Europe once the war in Ukraine is over.

What I’m objecting to are all those influential voices who claim to know exactly what he will do and who are basing the continued pursuit of unrealistic objectives on mere guesswork.

The diplomatic path to a secure Ukraine

Conventional wisdom holds that a negotiated end to the Ukraine war is neither possible nor desirable.  This belief is false. – Beebe and Lieven

George Beebe and Anatol Lieven have written a detailed, thoughtful, innovative paper, entitled The Diplomatic Path to a Secure Ukraine, on the need for, and how to proceed with, a serious, sustained diplomatic path to secure Ukraine’s future. Given the shocking paucity of such analyses, despite the urgency of their need, we will examine it in some detail.

The war is trending against Ukraine

In Beebe and Lieven’s considered view,

The war is not trending toward a stable stalemate, but toward Ukraine’s eventual collapse.  Russia has corrected many of the problems that plagued its forces during the first year of fighting and adopted an attrition strategy that is gradually exhausting Ukraine’s forces, draining American military stocks, and sapping the West’s political resolve.

They continue:

Sanctions have not crippled Russia’s war effort, and the West cannot fix Ukraine’s acute manpower problems absent direct intervention in the war.

Against this grim backdrop, the authors conclude:

Ukraine’s best hope lies in a negotiated settlement that protects its security, minimizes the risks of renewed attacks or escalation, and promotes broader stability in Europe and the world.

Why would Russia negotiate if the war is trending in its favour?

[T]his belief [that Russia has no incentive to negotiate] underestimates the gap between what Russia can accomplish through its own military efforts and what it needs to ensure its broader security and economic prosperity over the longer term. – Beebe and Lieven

An extremely important contribution made by the Quincy paper is its analysis of why it is in Russia’s interest, not just Ukraine’s, to pursue a negotiated solution, even if the war is trending in Russia’s favour.

 Russia can probably achieve some of its war aims by force… – Beebe and Lieven

The authors begin by acknowledging the war aims that Russia can probably achieve by force; namely, blocking Ukraine’s membership in NATO and capturing much of the territory it regards as historically and culturally Russian.

On the other hand, they write:

But Russia cannot conquer, let alone govern, the majority of Ukraine, nor can Russia secure itself against the ongoing threats of Ukrainian sabotage or potential NATO strikes absent a costly permanent military buildup that would undermine its civilian economy.

Only an agreement can address Russian concerns over strikes from NATO territory

Another long-standing Russian concern has been the stationing of particularly threatening weapons systems on its borders. Only an agreement with Washington and NATO can prevent the West from supplying Ukraine with some form of long-range strike capability, let alone address the broader concern of Russia’s vulnerability to strikes from NATO territory — a vulnerability that the war in Ukraine has only exacerbated.

As Beebe and Lieven write:

This [Russian] vulnerability will remain a significant danger absent arms control and confidence– and security–building measures (CSBMs) similar to those that helped keep the Cold War cold.

Long-term confrontation or some sort of accommodation in Europe?

The war has in fact greatly damaged Russia’s ability to pursue peaceful security–building measures or play any meaningful role inside a new European security order. – Beebe and Lieven

In the authors’ view, the war has set Europe on a course toward long–term division and confrontation between Russia and NATO, while making diplomatic discussions about managing the dangers of such confrontation nearly impossible.

In other words, Russia

has shown that it can block the further expansion of NATO into ex–Soviet republics, but it cannot fight its way into Western recognition that Russia has a legitimate role to play in Europe’s security order, nor can it reduce the potential for direct war with NATO absent diplomatic engagement with the United States and Europe.

The Rideau institute comments:

While the focus here is on reasons why Russia needs a negotiated settlement, it should be obvious that it is manifestly in NATO’s interest as well to support such an outcome. The alternative is a world with all the dangers of the Cold War and none of the management tools.

Russia also needs an agreement regarding its control of Crimea and the Donbass

Russia will want at least de facto Western acquiescence to Russian control of Crimea and the Donbass. The alternative will mean a much higher level of Russian expense in fortifying those regions, and a much lower level of success in reconstructing them.

Russia’s overarching goal of a meaningful role in a multipolar system

So long as Western sanctions remain in place, Russia will have little to no commercial involvement in European markets and no seat in European councils overseeing security matters. As for the broader world order, Beebe and Lieven conclude:

The degree to which Russia is barred from meaningful discourse with the United States and Europe deepens its dependence on China and circumscribes the role it can play in a multipolar world order.

Getting Russia to the table

States typically seek negotiated ends to war when they doubt continued fighting will advance their goals and fear it might damage them. – Beebe and Lieven

Beebe and Lieven argue that Ukraine and the West are in the early stages of facing up to the conclusion that continued fighting will make matters worse, not better, for Ukraine.

The situation, however, is different with Russia. They write:

Russia has no compelling short–run need to compromise with Ukraine and the West anytime soon, as it has reasons at present to believe continued fighting will improve its position.

However, as outlined above, Russia has long–term security interests that could be advanced more effectively through a negotiated settlement than by continual warfare and complete exclusion from the European security order.

Thus, the paper next explores the question:

How might the United States draw Russia into a diplomatic process that preserves Ukraine’s independence, provides it with acceptable security, and mitigates the dangers of confrontation between Russia and the West in Europe?

Essential prerequisites for getting Russia to the table

Beebe and Lieven outline the following “prerequisites” for getting Russia to the negotiating table, beginning with

continued Western [military and other] assistance to Ukraine, without which Ukraine might collapse, diminishing Russia’s incentives to compromise.

But Beebe and Lieven emphasize that the type of military aid is also key. Rather than weaponary to support the futile, in their view, goal of driving Russian forces off Ukrainian territory, they argue:

Assistance which sustains Ukraine’s ability to defend itself by blocking or impeding Russian advances and to contend with Russian airstrikes will be critical to persuading Moscow that compromise would be a less costly and more effective path to achieving its goals than continued fighting.

Other essential steps include:

  • re–invigorating direct communication between Washington and Moscow (with dedicated envoys and private “back channels”);
  • an indication by Washington that it is prepared to discuss Ukraine’s military neutrality; and
  • enlisting mediation support from China and the Global South (e.g. Brazil and South Africa).

Political suicide for President Zelensky to publicly call for negotiations

On the importance of Ukrainian President Zelensky responding to, rather than being seen seeking to initiate, peace negotiations (on any terms other than his current 10-point peace plan which we discuss further below), Beebe and Lieven write:

Were Zelensky independently to call for negotiations, he would open himself to potentially destabilizing attacks from Ukraine’s political right wing, which strongly opposed his efforts early after his election in 2019 to find a compromise with Russia and end the war in the Donbass.

In their view, it is highly improbable that Zelensky or any Ukrainian president could survive initiating talks with Russia absent public pressure from Washington.

Importance of Chinese role in negotiations

Beebe and Lieven argue that China has several reasons to desire an end to the war, including concerns that its sympathy for Russia in the war could jeopardize its economic relations with Europe and prompt greater European involvement in Asian security affairs.

The paper also draws attention to Beijing’s admonitions to Russia about nuclear threats in the Ukraine war and the prospects for escalation into direct clashes between Russia and the West, “with potentially severe consequences for China”.

Beebe and Lieven conclude that

China has strong reasons to want a negotiated peace in the war that addresses key Russian security concerns while preserving Ukrainian independence and sovereignty.

Russia and the Chinese 12-point peace plan

Since the publication of their paper on 16 February 2024, a changed Russian attitude toward the Chinese proposals bolsters Beebe and Lieven’s argument that China has an important role to play.

Back in February 2023, when China first proposed its 12-point vision for peace between Ukraine and Russia, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told the Moscow Times:

We paid a lot of attention to our Chinese friends’ plan [but] for now, we don’t see any of the conditions that are needed to bring this whole story towards peace.

Russia has now apparently modified its view.

According to TASS, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov stated on 4 April 2024:

The clearest plan was presented by China last year…. The most important thing for us is that the Chinese document is based on the analysis of the causes of what is happening and the need to eliminate these causes.

Note that Lavrov also warmly referenced African and Brazilian peace proposals, among others, saying:

We continue to welcome various initiatives put forward by countries of the Global South. And a number of other countries have put forward their proposals, but perhaps not as concrete and articulate [as the Chinese plan].

Russia also recently referenced its efforts to engage the US in talks through intermediaries in late 2023 – early 2024

The contacts with the Americans came to nothing. – senior Russian source

While most Western commentaries routinely assert that Putin will not negotiate, in February 2024, Reuters, citing Russian sources, reported that

Putin sent signals to Washington in 2023 in public [at the G20 meeting on 22 November] and privately through intermediaries, including through Moscow’s Arab partners in the Middle East and others, that he was ready to consider a ceasefire in Ukraine.

Reuters goes on to say, however, that according to three Russian sources with knowledge of the discussions in late 2023 and early 2024, Russian President Vladimir Putin’s suggestion of a ceasefire in Ukraine to freeze the war was rejected by the United States after contacts between intermediaries:

A second Russian source with knowledge of the contacts also told Reuters that the Americans told Moscow, via the intermediaries, they would not discuss a possible ceasefire without the participation of Ukraine and so the contacts ended in failure.

A third source with knowledge of the discussions also told Reuters that the Americans “did not want to pressure Ukraine”.

Reuters also reported:

A U.S. source denied there had been any official contact and said Washington would not engage in talks that did not involve Ukraine.

Note that the American denial of “official contact” is not a denial of unofficial contacts through intermediaries.

Ceasefire. ca comments:

There are two issues here: first, the failure of most commentators to take account of these Russian overtures and, second, the fact that Ukraine needs American action first in support of realistic negotiations with Russia.

What about the planned high-level peace conference to be hosted by Switzerland?

AP news reported on 10 April 2024 that

Switzerland’s government said Wednesday it will host a high-level international conference in June to help chart a path toward peace in Ukraine after more than two years of war, and expressed hope that Russia might join in the peace process someday.

The Swiss government said early talks toward arranging the conference involved the European Union and envoys from the so-called Global South, including Brazil, China, Ethiopia, India, Saudi Arabia and South Africa.

AP News also reported that White House officials indicated no decision on their attendance has been made.

The conference is based on President Zelensky’s 10-point peace plan first launched in December 2022, in respect of which there have been follow-up discussions among a steadily growing number of countries.

Points 5 and 6 of that plan call for:

  1. Restoring Ukraine’s full territorial integrity and Russia reaffirming it in accordance with the U.N. Charter.
  2. Withdrawal of Russian troops and cessation of hostilities, restoration of Ukraine’s state borders with Russia.

AP News reports Russia’s response as follows:

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov warned last week that prospective negotiations to end the fighting in Ukraine could be successful only if they take Moscow’s interests into account, dismissing a planned round of peace talks as a Western ruse to rally broader international support for Kyiv.

The Swiss Foreign Minister emphasized the importance of Russian attendance “sooner or later” and indicated securing their presence would be a matter for early discussion.

Will China attend?

China’s Foreign Ministry has said that Beijing supports a conference that’s accepted by both Russia and Ukraine, “which isn’t the case so far”.

RI President Peggy Mason comments:

President Zelensky’s ten-point peace plan is, in reality, a call for total Russian capitulation and is surely not a promising basis for a negotiation process in which Russia too participates. Nonetheless, the Swiss government’s championing of a negotiated end to the conflict is most welcome.

Beebe and Lieven outline innovative negotiation structures

Beebe and Lieven underline the complexity of negotiations to end the Ukraine war with some issues requiring direct Ukrainian–Russian negotiations while others necessitate trilateral or multilateral discussions.

To address this complexity, their paper proposes what they call a “baskets” approach, based on the Helsinki Final Act talks in the 1970s, along the following lines:

A security basket would address arms control, confidence– and security–building measures (CSBMs), demining, and other military matters. An economic basket would handle such issues as economic reconstruction, sanctions relief, and war reparations. A human dimension basket could discuss prisoners of war, war crimes, ethnic minorities, and other related matters.

Possible contours of a peace settlement

To be effective and enduring, any settlement must address key concerns of Ukraine, Russia, and the West. – Beebe and Lieven

The Quincy paper from pages 44 to 48 outlines possible contours of a settlement.

The key concerns of Ukraine, Russia and the West are summarized as follows:

  • For Ukraine, this means reliable assurances that it will not be vulnerable to another Russian invasion and has a viable path to reconstruction and economic prosperity.
  • For Russia, this means reliable assurances that Ukraine will not be an ally of the United States or host NATO weapons or forces.
  • For the United States and Europe, this means reliable assurances that Moscow will not parlay military success in Ukraine into broader threats to Russia’s neighbors or to NATO member states

Beebe and Lieven remind us that Ukraine and Russia moved some distance towards such a compromise under Turkish and Israeli mediation in March and April 2022 when the two sides outlined a draft agreement that traded Ukrainian neutrality for multilateral security guarantees.

Cautioning that Russia “would almost certainly drive a harder bargain today,” Beebe and Lieven nonetheless believe that

the fundamental bargain — Ukrainian neutrality and a multilateral arms control regime in return for Ukrainian independence and a path toward economic prosperity — remains the most promising means of addressing all sides’ key interests and incentivizing mutual compliance with the terms of settlement.

The question of security guarantees

Back in our blog post of 3 April 2022, The Rideau Institute made this comment:

Ukrainian proposals for security guarantees have been a feature of the peace negotiations since at least mid-March [2022], with the US listed as a possible guarantor from the outset. Why has the American administration not been engaged with Ukraine on finding an acceptable formulation for both countries?

No doubt hoping that the US will take a more productive approach this time around, Beebe and Lieven  propose building on the earlier proposals, writing:

With U.S. and perhaps Chinese involvement, negotiators could build upon Ukraine’s 2022 proposal for establishing an international group of guarantors of Ukraine’s security that would include the permanent members of the UN Security Council, as well as such states as Germany, Italy, Poland, and Turkey [and Canada].

The Rideau Institute adds:

Regarding China, consideration in our view should also be given to that country serving as a guarantor of Russian compliance, putting its prestige and credibility and considerable leverage vis-à-vis Russia behind the agreement.

Caps on military holdings and stationing of weapons

On the issue of military holdings, Beebe and Lieven write in part:

Russia would certainly demand some form of cap or limitation on Ukraine’s military holdings and the weaponry stationed in the country…. To preserve Ukraine’s security, any caps on Ukrainian military resources should be paired with complementary ceilings on Russian military forces that are geographically positioned to threaten Ukraine.

The thorny problem of Ukraine’s territorial delineation

The question of Ukraine’s territorial delineation is a particularly thorny problem, and one that is highly unlikely to be resolved through official compromise. – Beebe and Lieven

The paper contends that the failure of Ukraine’s counteroffensive in 2023 to break through Russian defenses and recapture Russian–occupied territory means Ukraine will almost certainly not be capable of recovering all the land under its 1991 borders, while Russia is unlikely to surrender at the negotiating table land that it regards as Russian and for which it has sacrificed considerable blood and treasure.

In the view of Beebe and Lieven:

The best one might hope for would be to establish a settlement process in which agreeing on borders is not a prerequisite for ending the fighting, similar to the wars in Cyprus and the Korean peninsula.

In this regard, the paper reminds us that Ukraine’s 2022 proposal envisaged a “15-year consultation period” on the status of Crimea.

Will a peace settlement not further embolden Russian aggression?

Beebe and Lieven also face head-on, as  Professor Stephen Walt did in the article cited earlier, the oft-stated concern of many Western analysts that any negotiated peace would embolden Russia to engage in further aggression toward neighbouring countries.

In their view:

The chances that Russia might parlay some kind of victory in Ukraine into new invasions in Europe are in fact quite low.

They explain:

Russia has had a formidable challenge conquering territory on its immediate border, on terrain it knows well, with the benefit of short supply lines and years of intelligence preparation.

It is difficult to imagine that Russia could successfully invade a NATO state, for which NATO would very likely have advance intelligence warning and would almost certainly invoke an Article V defense. It would also involve much longer supply lines and much less favorable conditions.

They add:

Nor are there any signs that Russians desire such a war. In fact, Russia has gone to great lengths to avoid direct clashes with NATO in its invasion of Ukraine.

Potential US policy steps to pave the way for negotiations

Beebe and Lieven end with outlining several policy steps the US could take to “pave the way toward the negotiating table”, including:

  • restoring defensive aid to Ukraine
  • opening a confidential diplomatic back channel to Russia
  • privately indicating to Russia that the US is open to discussing the issue of NATO membership for Ukraine
  • privately reaching out to China and the Global South to discuss the parameters of a negotiated compromise in Ukraine
  • changing the US public rhetoric to indicate openness to negotiations

Regarding the importance of the US signalling its willingness to discuss NATO membership as part of the negotiations, Beebe and Lieven write:

[T]his would be a powerful signal to Russia of Western seriousness in seeking peace. It would also carry little if any practical cost given that the reality of Western actions show that the United States and other NATO members do not wish to involve their own forces in a Ukraine conflict.

Majority of Americans now support Ukraine peace negotiations

Roughly 70% of Americans want the Biden administration to push Ukraine toward a negotiated peace with Russia as soon as possible…. – Harris Poll

The same day that the Beebe/Lieven paper was published, the Quincy Institute also released a new survey from the Harris Poll and the Quincy Institute indicating that roughly 70% of Americans want the Biden administration to push Ukraine toward a negotiated peace with Russia as soon as possible — up from 57% in a late 2022 poll.

Of particular significance is the finding that

support for negotiations remained high when respondents were told such a move would include compromises by all parties, with two out of three respondents saying the U.S. should still pursue talks despite potential downsides.

But Republican opposition to Ukraine aid could undermine negotiation prospects

However, Republicans are increasingly against US military aid to Ukraine as the stalled Congressional funding bill graphically illustrates, thus undermining one of the essential conditions, in the view of Beebe and Lieven, for bringing Putin to the table sooner rather than later.

For more on the Republican machinations in the House of Representatives and the many uncertainties surrounding if, when and how the $95 billion Senate bill — combining aid for Ukraine, Israel and Taiwan with humanitarian help for Gaza — will be put to a vote in the House of Representatives, see [GOP] Speaker Johnson’s perilous moment on Ukraine has finally arrived (Mike Lillis and Mychael Schnell, thehill.com, 13 April 2024).

Iran’s retaliation against Israel complicates matters even further

As if the situation were not fraught enough, the Iranian retaliatory attack on Israel now puts pressure on the US House speaker to pass the aid bill for Israel and Ukraine.

However, as the Guardian reported on Monday, 15 April 2024:

The US House speaker, Mike Johnson, has said he will aim to advance a bill for wartime aid to Israel this week following Iran’s weekend attack, but did not clarify whether Ukraine funding would be part of the package.

Whither Canada?

As many of our blog posts in the three years leading up to Russia’s large-scale invasion of Ukraine demonstrated, there was much that Canada could and should have done to help Ukraine implement the Minsk II Accords and thus end the Donbass conflict.

For example, in our 19 April 2021 post, we quoted from a paper by Canadian expert Andrew Rasiulis entitled Ukraine: At Europe’s Strategic Crossroads (cgai.ca, April 2021) where he wrote:

Should there in fact be a renewed opening of negotiations under the Minsk/Normandy process, Canada is well placed to make a contribution to further such negotiations. Canadian experience in peacekeeping, federalism and language rights is a factor with the potential to provide pragmatic solutions to the issues at hand.

Tragically, for mainly domestic political reasons outlined in an earlier blog post entitled In Ukraine and the Middle East, Canada is not an “honest broker” (25 May 2020), we were forced to conclude it was unlikely Canada would change its tune any time soon and show some willingness to play a constructive diplomatic role.

The need for Ukraine to be supported in a realistic negotiating strategy is even greater now. Yet the possibility that Canada will assist directly in that effort is as remote as ever.

The Rideau Institute comments:

The message of diplomacy and concessions to Russia is a hard one to hear. But its aggression has been anything but cost-free to Russia too. Among its permanent losses, in addition to the staggering number of dead and injured, is the expansion of NATO to Sweden and Finland – the latter with a 1,340 km border with Russia – and the strengthening of NATO defences and cohesion. The  overriding point, however, remains, that diplomacy is the best way forward to secure Ukraine’s future.

Canadian defensive military aid is still important

Recalling that Beebe and Lieven underscored the need for continued defensive aid to Ukraine, Canada’s ongoing commitments in that regard, recently summarized in the Prime Minister’s announcement of the 2024 Defence Update, are to be welcomed.

Ed. Note: In upcoming posts, we will examine the 2024 Defence Update and its huge increases in overall military spending on top of previous massive increases that are still ongoing.

ISRAEL/PALESTINE AND THE WAR ON GAZA

The [Dahiya] doctrine, which follows that costly insurgencies are dealt with by the extensive and disproportionate use of military force against entire populations, has already been used to inflict terrible suffering in Gaza in the current disastrous conflict. – Paul Rogers, 4 March 2024

Professor Rogers wrote again about this doctrine in his 5 April post for Open Democracy, saying in part:

The problem is that almost from the start, the war has not gone according to plan, with Hamas turning out to be much more resilient than anticipated. A direct consequence has been the IDF’s increasing reliance on the Dahiya Doctrine of collective punishment — rooted in undermining insurgents by attacking their civilian base. Applied to Hamas, this means maintaining the siege and continuing the bombing.

Our next blog post will focus in detail on Israel’s monstrous, and profoundly illegal, doctrine of disproportionate force, first used in Lebanon in 2006.

The danger of escalation to a broader Middle East conflagration

After Iran’s attack on Israel, further escalation must be stopped. Western leaders must do all they can to prevent an over-reaction from Netanyahu leading to all-out regional war – UK Observer editorial

On 1 April Israel bombed the Iranian consulate in Damascus. On 13 April Iran responded with an overnight barrage of drones and missiles targeting military bases in Israel.

Regarding the original Israeli attack, the UK Observer editorial had this to say:

Amid the present tumult, it should not be forgotten that this Iranian attack was provoked, according to Iran’s leadership at least, by Israel’s unacknowledged bombing on 1 April of an Iranian embassy annex in Damascus that killed several senior commanders. In Tehran’s not unreasonable view, that attack crossed a red line by targeting diplomatic premises. For the Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, it amounted to an assault on sovereign Iranian territory. It could not go unanswered.

UN Secretary-General calls for maximum restraint

The UN Secretary-General told delegates at the opening of an emergency meeting of the UN Security Council:

It is vital to avoid any action that could lead to major military confrontations on multiple fronts in the Middle East… Now is the time for maximum restraint.

While Canada in its own statement and that of the G7 Leaders, only condemned Iran’s carefully calibrated retaliatory military response and not Israel’s massively provocative prior action, the UN Secretary-General condemned both actions and, as quoted above, called for restraint on all sides.

Positively, the short G7 statement also called for restraint.

For an excellent analysis of what is at stake and how President Biden’s unequivocal — we would say blind — support for Israel has contributed to this crisis, see Will Benjamin Netanyahu Drag America into a Big Middle Eastern War? (Jeet Heer, thenation.com, 15 April 2024).

The danger of escalation must not divert attention from Israel’s crimes in Gaza

The imposition of targeted sanctions against members of Netanyahu’s war cabinet, under Canada’s Magnitsky Act and immigration laws, is an appropriate and overdue response to Israel’s flagrant violations. – Alex Neve

We end with a call from leading Canadian human rights advocate Alex Neve that Canada must sanction Benjamin Netanyahu and his war cabinet (Toronto Star, 14 April 2024).

After outlining the direct harm to Canadian citizens and their families trapped in Gaza and to Canadian aid workers targeted by the Israeli military, Alex Neve writes:

Canada stands at a crossroads, faced with the moral imperative to act decisively against this full out assault on the most basic human rights. It is time for concrete action, beyond expressions of dismay and concern.

Whither Canada?

We call on the government of Canada to immediately take the necessary measures, including appropriate due process protections, to impose targeted sanctions against members of Netanyahu’s war Cabinet, under Canada’s Magnitsky Act and immigration laws.

UPCOMING EVENT

TO STOP THE GAZA WAR CONTINUED DIRECT PRESSURE ON THE GOVERNMENT OF CANADA FROM CANADIAN CITIZENS IS ESSENTIAL AND EFFECTIVE.

(A UN team inspects an unexploded 1,000-pound bomb lying on a main road in Khan Younis. )

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau: < justin.trudeau@parl.gc.ca  >

Foreign Minister Mélanie Joly: < melanie.joly@parl.gc.ca >; Parliamentary Secretary Rob Oliphant: < rob.oliphant@parl.gc.ca >

International Development Minister Ahmed Hussen: < ahmed.hussen@parl.gc.ca >

Leader of the NDP Jagmeet Singh: < Jagmeet.Singh@parl.gc.ca >; NDP Foreign Affairs critic Heather McPherson: < Heather.McPherson@parl.gc.ca >

Leader of the Conservative Party Pierre Poilievre: < pierre.poilievre@parl.gc.ca >; Conservative Foreign Affairs critic Michael Chong: < michael.chong@parl.gc.ca >

Leader of the Bloc Quebecois Yves-François Blanchet: < Yves-Francois.Blanchet@parl.gc.ca>

Green Party Critic Elizabeth May: < Elizabeth.May@parl.gc.ca >

And find your local Member of Parliament HERE.

Photo credit: UNICEF; OCHA/Themba Linden.

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