NDP pressures Liberals to recognize State of Palestine as UK, US signal openness


The New Democrats are calling on the Liberal government to have Canada formally recognize Palestine as a state, saying it would help promote peace in the Middle East.

“It’s time for Canada to do more, to build a peaceful resolution for the people of Palestine and the people of Israel,” NDP foreign affairs critic Heather McPherson said Tuesday.

McPherson will introduce a private motion in the House of Commons that would recognize the Palestinian territories as a sovereign state.

The motion should appear in parliamentary papers on Wednesday, but is unlikely to be put to a vote any time soon. Still, McPherson is calling on MPs to back him and pressure the federal government to deliver.

The British and American governments have recently said they are considering fully recognizing Palestine once the war between Israel and Hamas ends, he noted.

The opposition Conservatives did not immediately respond when asked if they would support the motion, while Foreign Affairs Minister Melanie Joly’s office did not directly respond to the question.

“Canada believes that the only way to achieve the goal of a comprehensive, just and lasting peace in the Middle East is through a two-state solution, including the creation of a Palestinian State living side by side with Israel in peace and security” wrote Joly spokesperson Isabella Orozco-Madison.

McPherson announced her motion in Parliament, flanked by a handful of group members. NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh was not present, although his office said he and all caucus members support the motion.

For decades, the Canadian government has supported the eventual creation of a Palestinian country existing in peace alongside Israel – the essence of what is known as the two-state solution.

Canada currently recognizes the Palestinian territories as separate entities from Israel, but not as a state in themselves. Similarly, Palestine has a diplomatic delegation and ambassador fully recognized by Ottawa, but not as a country, similar to the European Union ambassador in Ottawa.

“I’ve never understood how liberals or conservatives can say they believe in a two-state solution and not recognize two states,” McPherson said with a shrug.

Doing so would be a necessary step to counter Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s current efforts to thwart that outcome, he said.

“From that position, then you can start having peaceful conversations and then you can start to look at what the State of Palestine would look like.”

Much of Asia and Africa already recognize Palestine as a state. Mona Abuamara, the Palestinian ambassador to Canada, has been saying for months that Ottawa should do the same.

South Africa joined those calls following a January ruling by the International Court of Justice, which ordered Israel to prevent a genocide of Palestinians in the Gaza Strip.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 13, 2024.

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