Canada passes revised motion meant to promote peace in the Middle East

(AJNews) – On March 19, Canada’s MPs approved a motion that clarified its position on the Middle East. After much debate and many revisions, the non-binding motion read as follows.

The house calls on the government to:

(a) demand an immediate ceasefire, the release of all hostages, and Hamas must lay down its arms;

(b) cease the further authorization and transfer of arms exports to Israel to ensure compliance with Canada’s arms export regime and increase efforts to stop the illegal trade of arms, including to Hamas;

(c) ensure continued funding to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) to meet the dire humanitarian need, engage with the United Nations internal investigation and independent review process, and ensure implementation of necessary long-term governance reforms and accountability measures;

(d) support the prosecution of all crimes and violations of international law committed in the region;

(e) support the work of the International Court of Justice and the International Criminal Court;

(f) demand unimpeded humanitarian access to Gaza;

(g) ensure Canadians trapped in Gaza can reach safety in Canada and expand access to the temporary resident visa program;

(h) sanction extremist settlers and maintain sanctions on Hamas leaders;

(i) reaffirm that settlements are illegal under international law and that settlements and settler violence are serious obstacles to a negotiated two-state solution, and advocate for an end to the decades long occupation of Palestinian territories; and

(j) work with international partners to actively pursue the goal of a comprehensive, just and lasting peace in the Middle East, including towards the establishment of the State of Palestine as part of a negotiated two-state solution, and maintain Canada’s position that Israel has a right to exist in peace and security with its neighbours.

The initial version of the NDP motion was changed considerably before passing 204 to 117. It has been reported that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and almost all Liberal MPs voted in favour, alongside NDP, Bloc Quebecois and Green MPs. Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre and his party voted against the proposal, as did former cabinet minister Marco Mendicino and Montreal Liberal MP Anthony Housefather, a vocal critic of his own party’s handling of the conflict.

The initial version of the motion was met with harsh condemnation from Canadian Jewish leaders. Although there were considerable revisions made to the original motion, both  B’nai Brith Canada and CIJA have labeled the final motion as anti-Israel.

In a press release, B’nai Brith Canada stated that “the non-binding motion is a worrisome sign that anti-Israel demonization is becoming normalized in Canada. There is a legitimate risk that the motion will only further fuel the incitement that is already responsible for fomenting record levels of antisemitism within our country.”

“Hamas still holds more than 100 hostages,” said Richard Robertson, B’nai Brith Canada’s Director of Research and Advocacy. “Our Government should be focusing on securing their release and helping Israel eliminate Hamas, which is a listed terrorist organization in this country.

“The 11th-hour manner in which the motion was amended made a mockery of parliamentary procedure and demonstrated a callous lack of understanding of the sensitive nature of the contents of the motion for Canadian Jews.”

Shimon Koffler Fogel, President and CEO, Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs stated, “The Canadian Jewish community strongly objects to the passage of a non-binding New Democratic Party (NDP) motion related to the current conflict in Gaza. While the removal of the very problematic clause calling for unilateral recognition of a Palestinian state is an important result of the substantial mobilization of the pro-Israel community, the fact that the NDP failed to achieve its core objective is of little comfort.”

Koffler Fogel said that the motion undermines longstanding Canadian foreign policy and called it “misguided and disingenuous.”

“It will not effectively address the humanitarian crisis,” he added. “It will not liberate Gazans from the tyrannical rule of the Iranian proxy, Hamas. It will not promote peace. It is shameful that the Liberal government has drawn moral equivalence between Israel, a declared democratic ally, and Hamas, a Canadian government-listed terrorist entity.”

“It is very worrying that passage of this motion could be used to further embolden the antisemitic protests we have seen targeting the Jewish community under the guise of demonstrating against Israel,” concluded Koffler Fogel.

“We commend the principled stance shown by the Conservative caucus that voted against the motion, along with Liberal MPs Ben Carr, Anthony Housefather, and Marco Mendicino, and independent MP Kevin Vuong.”

On March 10, Mélanie Joly, Minister of Foreign Affairs, met with Israel Katz, Israel’s Minister of Foreign Affairs. According to a press release, she reiterated “Canada’s long-standing position that Israel has the right to exist and defend itself in accordance with international law.” Since October 7, Canada has unequivocally condemned Hamas’s terrorist attacks, and Minister Joly reaffirmed this condemnation and also reiterated Canada’s call to immediately release all hostages.

Minister Joly expressed her deep concern over reports of sexual violence committed by Hamas against Israeli hostages in Gaza, including the report from the UN, and underscored Canada’s strong support for investigations into such acts.

She also expressed deep concern about the worsening humanitarian crisis in Gaza and repeated Canada’s call to increase access to allow humanitarian aid to enter Gaza through all means possible, including land crossings and the planned humanitarian sea corridor.

The Minister reiterated the need for Canadian citizens and permanent residents to be able to leave Gaza with their families and underscored that the protection of civilians is paramount.

Minister Joly reaffirmed Canada’s “commitment to the security of Israel and to achieving a comprehensive, just and lasting peace in the Middle East through a two-state solution.”

On March 14, the Minister met with the Palestinian Authority President, Mahmoud Abbas, and with the Palestinian Authority Minister of Foreign Affairs, Riad Malki, while visiting the West Bank.

According to a press release, Minister Joly raised the “dire humanitarian crisis in Gaza, including the protection of civilians and the growing threat of hunger and disease for displaced Palestinians.” The Minister emphasized that a “humanitarian ceasefire is urgently needed to stop the violence, bring hostages home and ensure that civilians in Gaza can access humanitarian relief.”

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