Canada needs to do more to help end Israel-Hamas war says MP

Israel-Hamas conflict

For the past 3 1/2 months, the world has witnessed the devastating situation in Palestine and Israel.

Since the horrifying Hamas terrorist attack on Oct. 7 and the beginning of this latest assault on Gaza by Israeli forces, tens of thousands of innocent people have been killed, two-thirds of whom are women and children.More than 85% of the Gazan population has been forced from their homes. Hundreds of thousands of Palestinians have been injured and can’t get proper health care.

New Democrats have heard from more than 250,000 Canadians who have written us in shock and despair, demanding a ceasefire and real action from the Canadian government. We first called for a ceasefire and the release of all hostages on Oct. 11. In addition, we are pushing for an end to the blockade of Gaza, unimpeded humanitarian aid, assurance Canadians and their loved ones in Gaza can reach safety in Canada, while respecting the legal right of Gazans to return, an end to arms sales to Israel and increased efforts to ensure illegal arms do not reach terrorist groups like Hamas, advocacy for an end to the occupation, investments in building a just and sustainable peace for Palestinians and Israelis and a ban on extremist settlers involved in West Bank violence from entering Canada.

While the government finally agreed to support a ceasefire resolution at the U.N. General Assembly on Dec. 12, it has not followed its vote with any meaningful action to ensure Israel and Hamas agree to a ceasefire in Gaza.

Strong reactions to the devastation in Gaza have also bred an alarming rise in antisemitism, anti-Palestinian racism and Islamophobia across Canada, and many in our communities are feeling scared, unheard and unsafe. I condemn these hateful acts.

In December, as Canadians appealed to the government to help their loved ones reach safety, New Democrats asked the Liberals to introduce special immigration measures for Gaza. While Canada announced some measures a few weeks later, we have serious questions about the rollout of these measures, including the arbitrary cap of 1,000 applications that has caused families further grief. The NDP has repeatedly called on the government to lift this discriminatory quota.

In the West Bank, extremist right-wing settlers are harassing, threatening and killing innocent Palestinians as Israeli security forces watch. The United Kingdom, United States and European Union have all banned these extremists from their territories. We have asked the Canadian government to do the same.

In January, South Africa initiated proceedings in respect of events in Gaza before the International Court of Justice, the principal judicial organ of the United Nations. The federal NDP wrote to Canada’s Minister of Foreign Affairs to remind her of Canada’s obligations under the Genocide Convention and urged her not to intervene in opposition to this case.

Canada must uphold the principles of international justice and ensure independent international courts can do their work without political interference.

This offensive is not eliminating Hamas, nor is it rescuing hostages. It is destroying an entire population and its means of survival. This dispute has gone on for many decades. I travelled through Israel, the West Bank and occupied Sinai in the late 1970s when peace talks were underway to solve this longstanding dispute.

Israeli and Palestinian citizens desperately want to live in peace and security, but it’s clear escalating terrorist activity and military responses over the past half century have not brought that for either side.

In 1957, (then-Canadian Prime Minister) Lester Pearson won the Nobel Peace Prize for bringing peace to the Middle East during the Suez Crisis. When I was in the Sinai in 1978, I met Canadian forces keeping the peace between Israel and Egypt. Unfortunately, Canada’s power and reputation as a neutral force in world peacekeeping has eroded greatly since then.

We need to turn that trend around and work with other countries to bring a long-term diplomatic solution to this dispute before it spreads to other flashpoints in the region.

Richard Cannings is the NDP MP for South Okanagan – West Kootenay

This article is written by or on behalf of an outsourced columnist and does not necessarily reflect the views of Castanet.

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