Canadian lawmaker Jagmeet Singh, head of Canada’s nominally progressive New Democratic Party, has called on Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to stop arms sales to Israel.
Israel has slaughtered dozens of Palestinians in Gaza in hundreds of air strikes since Monday.
Singh’s call was a change from his habitual tendency to deflect on the issue.
It is also a signal that public calls on lawmakers to take a stand for Palestinian rights can yield results.At the NDP party convention last month, rank and file members had approved a call for an end to Canada’s arms deals with Israel.
Singh had initially refused to publicly state that he agreed with his party’s constituents. Instead, he said he agreed with the demands from human rights organizations to apply “pressure to get to a resolution.”
But at the House of Commons on Wednesday, Singh was very clear.
“Instead of taking action to stop or to deal with the long-standing illegal occupations, this prime minister is effectively supporting the status quo and going as far as to sell weapons to Israel,” Singh said.
“By arming one side of the conflict, it is undermining the peace process and it is supporting the illegal occupation. So, will the prime minister commit to stopping the sale of arms to Israel while they’re violating international human rights?,” Singh asked Trudeau directly.Trudeau, a staunch ally of Israel, did not answer Singh’s question.
Instead, he stated that Canada affirms “Israel’s right to assure its own security,” condemned rocket attacks launched by Palestinian resistance factions, and stated Canada’s support for the long-dead “two-state solution.”
He also said violence against Palestinians in Jerusalem was “unacceptable” and added that Canada was “gravely concerned” over Israeli settlement expansion projects – political finger-wagging that does not come with material consequences.
Lawmakers say it’s apartheid
More than 30 members of parliament have indicated their opposition to Israel’s eviction operations in the Jerusalem neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah.Taking it a step further, at least five MPs have been clear that Israel is practicing apartheid. Canadians for Justice and Peace in the Middle East, a human rights group, is calling on the Canadian government to convene an emergency session in order to address the “imminent forced evictions and escalating violence in Jerusalem.”
“In the absence of a clear plan from the Canadian government to address Israel’s violations, CJPME urges parliament to show leadership and debate Canada’s response to this human rights emergency,” the group stated.