April 20th, 2023
NDP is asking for a study on actions Canada should take to foster peace in Israel and Palestine
NDP Critic for foreign affairs, MP Heather McPherson, made the following statement:
“Earlier this year, an extreme right-wing coalition government was formed in Israel. Headed by Benjamin Netanyahu, this coalition includes ministers with criminal records committed to dismantling Israeli institutions, including its judiciary, its parliament, and its media. Ministers have threatened the rights of the LGBTQ+ community and human rights activists. These alarming actions have led to unprecedented protests by hundreds of thousands of Israelis across all sectors and have spread to Jewish communities around the world.
Moreover, extremists within this government continue to engage in hateful, incendiary and racist rhetoric against Palestinians, encouraging settler violence, inciting further threats from terrorist groups like Hamas, and further threatening any hopes of a peaceful rights-based resolution to this crisis.
This crisis culminated in the terrifying, disturbing and brutal violence at al-Aqsa during Ramadan. This was the third year in a row where worshippers at al-Aqsa were attacked, drawing international condemnation. And this violence was predictably followed by horrifying rocket attacks from Hezbollah and Hamas targeting Israeli civilians. At least 89 Palestinians and 14 Israelis have been killed this year alone.
We are at a dangerous moment with little prospect for peace and justice. Many international experts warn that the situation will only get worse under this government, and the two-state solution is hanging by a thread.
And in this moment, Canada is absent. While the Liberals condemn, they refuse to act.
Today, New Democrats introduced a motion at the Foreign Affairs committee to discuss actions Canada should take to foster peace, promote human rights, and uphold international law in the region. This is a discussion that Liberals and Conservatives have refused to have for decades.
But it is time to talk about it. The escalation of violence in Israel and Palestine is killing people, especially children. Palestinians and Israelis deserve to live and thrive - not under occupation, not under extremism, and not under threat of rocket attacks. Palestinians and Israelis need a roadmap to peace. For too long, our foreign policy has left Canada sitting on the sidelines and advocating for the status quo.
Canadian and international experts have long recommended that Canada take stronger measures. Today, the NDP is calling on Canada to heed their advice.
First, Canadian officials must refuse to meet with far-right extremists in the Israeli government who engage in hate speech, encourage violations of international law, and seek to dismantle democratic institutions - including Ministers Smotrich and Ben Gvir. When asked by the NDP whether Canada would refuse to meet with extremists, the Liberal government refused to answer. In contrast, White House officials have confirmed that no U.S. officials will meet with them.
Second, Canada must ban arms sales to Israel until such time as Palestinian human rights are respected. This is especially urgent considering both the authority given to Minister Smotrich over the West Bank, and the planned creation of a National Guard under the control of Minister of National Security Ben Gvir, that may target demonstrators as well as Palestinian citizens of Israel. We also urge the Canadian government to do more to tackle illegal arms smuggling that contributes to terrorist violence in the region targeting civilians.
Third, Canada should ban the import of all goods produced specifically in illegal settlements, as human rights groups Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International have called for. This is especially urgent given the current government’s moves towards annexation of Palestinian territory. Canada must not permit the trade in goods produced as a result of land theft, discrimination, or displacement, which is contrary to international law.
Fourth, Canada should significantly increase funding and other support for peacebuilding efforts at all levels as well as support to strengthen Palestinian civil society. This includes people-to-people peacebuilding programming and programming with specific focus on Israeli and Palestinian youth. Canadian support can help shift attitudes away from anti-Palestinian racism and antisemitism and towards reconciliation and human rights education.
It is clear that Canada’s policy on Israel/Palestine is no longer fit for purpose. If Canada is truly interested in working towards a two-state solution and ending the occupation, real change is needed. New Democrats remain committed to a future where Israelis and Palestinians can live in peace, with full respect for their human rights. Now is the time to help make that happen.”