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NDP urged to withdraw from Canada-Israel Interparliamentary Group

Israeli forces fire tear gas at Palestinians during a protest at the Gaza - Israel border on 8 June 2018 [Mohammed Asad/Middle East Monitor]

Canada's New Democratic Party (NDP) has been urged by members and rights activists to withdraw from the Canada-Israel Interparliamentary Group, in light of the Israeli army's lethal crackdown on Palestinian demonstrators in the occupied Gaza Strip.

More than 200 NDP activists, musicians, academics, trade unionists and others, including Roger Waters, Maher Arar, Noam Chomsky and Linda McQuaig, signed the open letter, which expresses concern "that members of parliament would seek to strengthen relations with a country systematically violating Palestinian rights".

"The recent violence takes place alongside ongoing land theft, destruction of olive groves, construction of Jewish-only roads, imprisonment without due process and a blockade of Gaza," the letter states.

During its 70-year history Israel has been as unjust towards Palestinians as the white-ruled apartheid state was to Black South Africans.

According to the letter, "the Canada-Israel Interparliamentary Group promotes 'greater friendship' between Canadian MPs and members of the Israeli Knesset and has organised events with other pro-Israel lobby organisations."

"It is wholly inconsistent with the avowed principles of the NDP for the party to be working for 'greater friendship' with a country that is killing and maiming thousands of overwhelmingly non-violent protestors, many of them children, as well as journalists and doctors, while systematically violating international law and human rights standards with regard to all Palestinians."

In an initial response to the appeal, the federal NDP said "it has no plans to withdraw from the Canada-Israel interparliamentary group despite vocal concerns from some of its party members", reported the Huffington Post.

Read: Canada press-freedom group fires staffer over Israel criticism

Wednesday, NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh said he is a strong defender of human rights and will continue to speak out wherever human rights violations occur.

"I believe in a two-state solution and I believe in open dialogue. I don't believe you can get to peace without having open dialogue so I believe it's important to have an open line of communication [and] we'll continue to have that," he said.

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