Canadian Jewish Political Affairs Committee
MP Cullen slams feds for picking sides in Mideast

The Prime Minister’s support of Israel in its military action in Lebanon has eliminated any ability Canada has to act as a peace broker between the two sides, said Nathan Cullen, Skeena-Bulkley Valley MP.

"Unequivocal support for either side in the Middle East is usually a bad idea because at the end of these conflicts, both sides usually have blood on their hands," said Cullen. "It’s a desperate part of the world, desperate decisions are made."

Israeli ground forces pushed deeper into Lebanon on Monday in heavy fighting and captured two Hezbollah guerrillas, while two aid convoys carrying food, generators and other badly needed supplies left Beirut for two southern cities.

Lebanon Prime Minister Fuad Saniora said his government is hoping to "put an end to the war being inflicted on Lebanon."

Saniora pleaded with Washington to press Israel to call a total cease-fire in bombardment that has demolished Lebanon’s infrastructure and killed hundreds. U.S. President George W. Bush has opposed an immediate ceasefire, saying the root cause of the conflict must be resolved.

Earlier in the conflict Prime Minister Stephen Harper called the initial action a "measured response."
Fighting has been ongoing for 13 days while countries around the world have moved in to help stranded citizens.
Some 2,000 Canadians were pulled out over the weekend.

Cullen said Canada’s unequivocal support of Israel during the past six months-including support of Israel’s action in Lebanon and revoking humanitarian aid to the Palestian people following the democratic election of the Hamas-led Palestinian Authority-has left Canada unable to fill any role in peace talks in the Middle East.
"I’ve worked in conflict areas of the world and Canadians are always known to be excellent in terms of being an honest broker. Bosnia and Serbia are perfect examples. Canada played the role of peace keeper."

"If Canada had gone in to that war and said ‘You guys are right and you guys are wrong’, we couldn’t have done what we did. The biggest successes for our military is to play that role.

"You don’t condone Hezbollah and you don’t condone the Israeli army because on both sides there absolutely wrong decisions that are being made. What you try to is get them to talk to each other. We’ve chosen a side, we can’t get them to talk to each other, we do not have that capacity any more.
"Ultimately, these conflicts will be settled by words, not by guns."

Cullen added there has been a lack of clarity and honest discussion by Canadian government on where to deploy its troops. It extends further back than the Conservatives, to the Liberal decision to extend the Canadian military mission in Afghanistan.

"The Liberals decided to get all aggressive in Afghanistan in the middle of the election, signed a document with the United States to put our troops in more harm’s way and then Harper came in and pushed it," said Cullen "This is a pattern that has to change in Canada. Harper talked about changing the way our troops were deployed and decisions were made and then immediately came in with the most bogus vote on Afghanistan and the Liberals supported it."

Cullen said there is no decision he takes more seriously than to deploy troops because it’s "a decision about somebody else’s life."
"The way this government is all cowboys and George Bush-loving is disturbing," he said.