Canada's parliament passes vote after language on Palestinian statehood dropped

The initial motion had demanded a suspension of all trade in military goods and technology with Israel

By Reuters

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Published: Tue 19 Mar 2024, 3:25 PM

Canada's parliament passed a non-binding motion late Monday calling on the international community to work toward a two-state solution to resolve the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians, in line with government policy.

The vote had been delayed by last-minute wrangling over wording supporting Palestinian statehood, an idea that looked set to deepen splits inside the ruling Liberal Party.

The original motion was drawn up by the minority left-leaning New Democrats (NDP), who are helping keep Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's Liberal Party in power and are unhappy with what they see as his failure to do enough to protect civilians in Gaza.

The amended motion, which also adopted stronger language against the Palestinian militant group Hamas, passed by 204 votes to 117 after most of the Liberal cabinet - including Ya’ara Saks, who is Jewish - and caucus voted in favour.

It was opposed by some Liberal members of parliament -- Anthony Housefather, Ben Carr and Marco Mendicino, a former federal minister.

The initial version called on Canada to "officially recognise the State of Palestine" - a step that no member of the Group of Seven industrialized nations has taken.

After back-room negotiations between the NDP and the Liberals, that wording was dropped in favour of language calling on the international community to work toward the establishment of a Palestinian state as part of a two-state solution.

But Liberal and opposition legislators in the House of Commons complained that they had no notice of the new wording and demanded the chance to debate it, so proceedings were briefly suspended.

Last week, Canada said it had paused non-lethal military exports to Israel since January. Trudeau, while asserting Israel's right to defend itself, has taken an increasingly critical stance over the Israeli military campaign in Gaza after the militant group's attack on Israel on October 7.

The initial motion had demanded a suspension of all trade in military goods and technology with Israel. It also urged an immediate ceasefire, an end to illegal arms transfers to Hamas and calls on the group to release all the hostages it took during the October 7 attack.

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

Israeli Ambassador Iddo Moed had earlier condemned the original idea of a vote on Palestinian statehood, saying it would "only evoke more bloodshed and jeopardize any peaceful resolution to the conflict."


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