Canada puts Israel on list of democracies ‘unlikely’ to generate refugees

VANCOUVER (JTA) –- Canada placed Israel on a list of “safe” countries whose citizens are unlikely to seek asylum as refugees. 

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Israel and seven other countries joined a list of 27 “Designated Countries of Origin” already on the list.

The 35 nations now on the list include the United States and most members of the European Union, according to a statement published on Feb. 14 by the Citizenship and Immigration Canada.

The ability of citizens from countries on the list to appeal decisions of the quasi-judicial Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada (IRB) will be limited.

Countries eligible for the list are “democratic countries that offer state protection, have active human rights and civil society organizations and do not normally produce refugees,” Citizenship and Immigration Canada said in the statement.

“Most Canadians recognize that there are places in the world where it is less likely for a person to be persecuted compared to other areas,” it said. “Yet many people from these places try to claim asylum in Canada, but are later found not to need protection. Too much time and too many resources are spent reviewing these unfounded claims.”

Israel’s addition to the list excludes Gaza and the West Bank.

The other countries added on Thursday were Mexico, Japan, Norway, Iceland, New Zealand, Australia and Switzlerland.

Amnesty International and the Canadian Council for Refugees criticized the list for limiting the ability of citizens from countries on the list to appeal IRB judgments, saying this was a violation of the U.N. Refugee Convention, Postmedia News reported.

The move comes as Stephen Harper’s Conservative government has been establishing stronger ties with the Jewish State.

In the fall, Canada closed its embassy in Iran and expelled Iranian diplomats from the country, supported Israel in the latest Gaza Strip war and opposed the Palestinian statehood bid at the UN.

Immigration Minister Jason Kenney is a staunch supporter of Israel and widely seen as a potential successor to Harper as leader of the Conservative Party.

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