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Canada: parliament to vote on motion backing Palestinian statehood

March 18, 2024 at 3:05 pm

Parliament of Canada [Saffron Blaze/Wikipeda]

Canadian legislators are due to vote today on a non-binding motion backing Palestinian statehood that has drawn condemnation from Israel and that could deepen splits inside the ruling Liberal Party, Reuters has reported. Although the government is free to ignore the result of the vote in the House of Commons elected chamber, it could cause political problems for Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

The motion was drawn up by the minority left-leaning New Democrats (NDP), who are helping keep Trudeau’s Liberals in power and are unhappy by what they see as his failure to do enough to protect the civilian population in Gaza.

“Justin Trudeau could take bold steps for peace and justice, but he doesn’t have the courage,” said NDP leader Jagmeet Singh. “That’s why we brought a motion to force the Liberal government to finally help end this bloodshed.” He added that Palestinians and Israelis both deserve to live in peace.

Last week, Canada said that it had paused non-lethal military exports to Israel since January because of the rapidly evolving situation on the ground. Trudeau, while asserting Israel’s “right to defend itself”, has taken an increasingly critical stance over the military campaign in Gaza.

The motion calls on Canada to “officially recognise the State of Palestine” — a step that no member of the Group of Seven industrialised nations has taken — and suspend all trade in military goods and technology with Israel. It also demands an immediate ceasefire and an end to illegal arms transfers to Hamas, calling on the resistance movement to release all of the hostages it took during the 7 October armed incursion.

There are clear signs of division inside the Liberal caucus over policy towards the Gaza conflict, with prominent backbench legislators variously backing and opposing the motion.

Israel’s Ambassador to Canada, Iddo Moed, issued a statement earlier today condemning the vote. “Empowering terrorists [sic] will only evoke more bloodshed and jeopardise any peaceful resolution to the conflict,” he claimed.

NDP foreign affairs spokeswoman Heather McPherson explained the motion was designed to be aligned with international law rather than causing problems for the Liberals. “We’re hopeful that we will have some support from the Liberals and we’re certainly seeing more movement from them over the past few days,” she told the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation.

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