UNITED NATIONS - Prime Minister Stephen Harper's government will be asked to match a U.S. resolution to give the plight of Jewish and other non-Muslim refugees from Arab lands as much weight in the Middle East peace process as that of Palestinian refugees, CanWest News service reports.
The U.S. House of Representatives is expected to pass a resolution Tuesday that will - together with an upcoming similar measure from the Senate - press the Bush administration to insist peace talks consider all refugee populations equally.
Research led by the group Justice for Jewish Refugees shows many of the 856,000 Jews who left their homes in Arab countries in the decades after the creation of Israel were forced out by oppressive Arab policies.
Yet any mention of refugees in Palestinian-Israeli peace talks has almost exclusively focused on the descendants of the 600,000-700,000 Palestinians the United Nations declared uprooted following the attack by Arab countries on the new state.
In a telephone news conference Monday with U.S. congressmen sponsoring the new initiative, Sylvain Abitbol, co-president of the Canadian Jewish Congress, said the group will do its "utmost . . . to get the support of the Canadian government" for the initiative at the UN.
"We seek this to achieve balance in the peace process - but it is also for history because we need our children to know that almost a million Jews lived in countries where they had been for over 2,000 years, even before the advent of Islam," he added in an interview.