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July 14th, 2014

NDP calls on Canadian government to support ceasefire in Middle East

NDP Foreign Affairs Critic Paul Dewar (Ottawa Centre) issued the following statement today on the situation in the Middle East:

“New Democrats are very concerned by the escalation of tensions in Gaza and Israel. We call on the Canadian government to support a ceasefire and urge all parties to exercise restraint and avoid actions that could further destabilize the situation.

On behalf of Canada's Official Opposition, we have written to Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird and called for Canada to work in support of restraint, de-escalation and civilian protection within a framework of international humanitarian law. To date, neither his comments nor the Prime Minister's statements get us closer to these important goals.

Since the start of the most recent tensions, we have spoken with Israeli and Palestinian representatives in Ottawa. We have reiterated that Hamas' continued rocket attacks are unacceptable. We have also voiced our deep concern regarding the escalating violence and reports of civilian deaths.

We will continue to monitor the situation closely and maintain our diplomatic engagement with Israeli and Palestinian officials. The Canadian government must work diplomatically, together with our allies, to help de-escalate the situation, work towards an immediate ceasefire and support a negotiated settlement to the conflict."

July 14, 2014

Dear Minister Baird,

I am writing regarding the recent escalation of tensions in Israel and the Gaza Strip. No one can remain insensitive to this terrible violence affecting civilians.

I note the following developments:

• Starting last week, over 1,000 rockets have been fired into Israel from the Gaza Strip by Hamas and other armed groups. 754 of these rockets have hit Israel.

• At least three Israelis have been seriously injured since the rocket attacks began.

• In response to these attacks, the Israeli military launched Operation Protective Edge on July 8. The Israeli air force has since struck 1,474 targets in the Gaza Strip.

• An estimated 175 people have been killed in the Gaza Strip by Israeli strikes, with over a thousand reported injured.

• Following Israeli warnings yesterday of imminent strikes, more than 17,000 residents of the northern Gaza Strip fled their homes to seek refuge in UN buildings and elsewhere.

• The United Nations Security Council issued a unanimous statement on July 12 calling for de-escalation, respect for international humanitarian law including the protection of civilians and the resumption of a ceasefire and negotiations toward a two-state solution.

Hamas' continued rocket attacks from Gaza, which are aimed at civilian centres in Israel, and the use of civilians as human shields are entirely unacceptable. The escalating violence and reports of civilian deaths are deeply troubling.

New Democrats continue to call on the Government of Canada to support international efforts to urge restraint, de-escalation and the protection of civilians on all sides, in conformity with international humanitarian law. The Canadian government should be working diplomatically, including through the United Nations, to support the resumption of a ceasefire and a negotiated settlement to the conflict.

Unfortunately, your government's recent statements do not support these objectives. We urge you to ensure that Canadian efforts are focused on the protection of all civilians and progress towards a ceasefire.

I look forward to your response.

Paul Dewar, M.P.