Supervisor Elham AbolFateh
Editor in Chief Mohamed Wadie

Canadian Parliament Endorses Proposal Urging Government to Support Establishment of Palestinian State

Tue 19 Mar 2024 | 10:24 PM
By Ahmad El-Assasy

In a significant move, the Canadian Parliament has approved a symbolic, non-binding proposal after a day of intense debate, urging the advancement of a two-state solution. 

Initially intended for a vote to formally recognize a Palestinian state, the proposal was reworded to simply call upon the Canadian government to work with international partners towards achieving comprehensive and just peace in the Middle East, including the establishment of a Palestinian state. This step has not been taken by any member country of the G7 group.

The vote was postponed to late Monday due to last-minute disagreements over the wording supporting the Palestinian state, where the Liberals significantly altered the phrasing to see the government merely work towards achieving this goal as part of a two-state solution.

As per Canadian media, after seeming to be headed for failure when the ruling Liberals pledged on Monday not to let the opposition influence its foreign policy, Government House Leader Steven MacKinnon shocked members by rising in the last minutes of the debate to advance a nearly 500-word proposal that rephrased large parts of the New Democratic Party's (NDP) proposal. 

To soften the original proposal's language, one of the fourteen amendments called for the government to work towards "the establishment of a Palestinian state as part of a two-state solution through negotiations."

Other amendments include referring to Hamas as a "terrorist organization," emphasizing Israel's right to self-defense, and calling for Hamas to release all hostages and disarm. 

The revised proposal also calls for stopping the transfer of more weapons to Israel (instead of demanding the suspension of all military equipment sales to Israel) and increasing efforts to halt the illicit arms trade, including to Hamas.

The original proposal, presented by the minority left-wing New Democratic Party (NDP), which helps keep Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's Liberal Party in power, expressed dissatisfaction with what they perceive as Trudeau's failure to do enough to protect civilians in Gaza. The original version called for Canada to "formally recognize the state of Palestine," a step not yet taken by any G7 member country.

The Liberals argued that there was a need to "de-escalate the political temperature" at a time when public protests are increasing in Canadian city streets, and immediate recognition of a Palestinian state raised questions about borders and would have placed Canada out of step with the rest of the G7 countries. 

After behind-the-scenes negotiations between the NDP and Liberals, this wording was replaced with another that calls on the international community to work towards the establishment of a Palestinian state as part of a negotiated two-state solution.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and nearly all Liberal MPs voted in favor, except for Anthony Housefather, Ben Carr, and Marco Mendicino, along with the NDP, the Bloc Québécois, and the Green MPs. Conservative leader Pierre Poilievre and his party voted against the proposal.

The change in the last line asked the House of Commons to call on the government to "formally recognize the state of Palestine," but was rewritten to say, "work with international partners to actively seek to achieve the goal of a comprehensive, just, and lasting peace in the Middle East, including towards the establishment of a Palestinian state as part of a negotiated two-state solution."

After being put to discussion, the opposition New Democratic Party's proposal was approved with a majority of 204 votes against 117. The proposal draft included calls for harsh actions against Israel, such as "acknowledging its commission of genocide in Gaza and stopping its arms sales."

NDP leader Jagmeet Singh stated on social media that his party "forced the Liberals" to stop selling weapons to the Israeli government, support both the International Criminal Court and the International Court of Justice, and impose sanctions on extremist settlers. Singh remarked on X, formerly known as Twitter, "Every Conservative MP and some Liberals tried to stop it, but they failed."

Liberal MP for Scarborough Centre, Salma Zahid, urged her colleagues to vote in favor of the proposal, stating that Canadians are demanding action. She said in the House of Commons, "Either we stand up for human rights everywhere and for everyone, or we do not. Let's be able to tell our next generation that we were on the right side of history."