An Israeli attack helicopter launches flares as he flies over the Israeli Gaza border, southern Israel, Thursday, May 13, 2021. (AP Photo/Ariel Schalit)

Singh calls for halt on Canadian arms sales to Israel as violence escalates in region

Government data shows Canada sent $13.7 million in military goods and technology to Israel in 2019

NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh is calling on the federal government to halt arms sales to Israel amid escalating violence in the region.

At a news conference Wednesday, Singh said Canada must apply pressure to ratchet down the spiralling conflict in East Jerusalem, Gaza and the West Bank and prevent more guns from deployment in clashes he says breach international law.

“By arming one side of the conflict it is undermining the peace process and it is supporting illegal occupation,” he said during question period later that day.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau responded by asking all sides toprotect civilians andend the violence, saying rocket attacks against Israel as well as violence at an iconic mosque are “unacceptable.”

“Canada supports Israel’s right to assure its own security,” he said. “Places of worship are for people to gather peacefully and should never be sites of violence.”

On Tuesday, Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole put out a statement condemning rocket attacks by Hamas militants as “indiscriminately targeting civilians.”

Government data shows Canada sent $13.7 million in military goods and technology to Israel in 2019, or 0.4 per cent of total arms exports, suggesting an embargo would have limited leverage.

Dozens have died after Palestinian militants launched rockets from Gaza and Israel unleashed new air strikes against them this week, an escalation triggered by soaring tensions in Jerusalem and days of clashes at the Al-Aqsa Mosque — built on a hilltop site sacred to Jews and Muslims in the holy city.

Singh’s call adds weight to a resolution passed by delegates at the NDP policy convention last month that demanded Canada suspend arms dealing with Israel and freeze trade with Israeli settlements, drawing condemnation from Jewish advocacy groups.

Internal party tensions over the Israeli-Palestinian conflict have nagged New Democrats over the past few months, but MP Matthew Green says NDP members stand united.

“I think it’s been pretty unanimous,” he said Wednesday in an interview.

“The tension comes from external conflation between what is happening by the (Prime Minister Benjamin) Netanyahu government … and anti-Semitism.”

Green said dealing arms to countries that abuse human rights is a violation of international law.

“And what we’ve seen in Sheikh Jarrah, the flash bombs in the Al-Aqsa Mosque — I can’t fathom a scenario where a group of people would throw flash bombs into the Vatican.”

He also highlighted concerns around the continued expansion of settlements and evictions — an issue raised by Trudeau on Wednesday as well.

Ahead of the NDP convention, more than 40 NDP riding associations endorsed a particularly contentious resolution that opposed a working definition of anti-Semitism set out by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA), arguing it is used to chill criticism of Israeli policy.

In response to the would-be resolutions, party members from 17 ridings — including some of those whose electoral district associations are against the IHRA definition — signed a letter sent to NDP riding presidents and obtained by The Canadian Press.

“The NDP policy convention, where at least 99 per cent of attendees will not be Jewish, is neither the time nor the place to debate a resolution that condemns the definition of this pervasive hatred for the Jewish people,” the March 26 letter stated.

The resolution never made it to the virtual floor for a vote.

Gaza’s Health Ministry says more than 65 Palestinians have been killed in Gaza since Monday, including 16 children, in the most severe outbreak of violence between Israel and the Gaza Strip since a 2014 war.

This round of violence, like previous ones, was fuelled by conflicting claims over Jerusalem, home to major holy sites of Islam, Judaism and Christianity. The rival national and religious narratives of Israelis and Palestinians are rooted in the city, making it the emotional core of their long conflict.

— With a file from The Associated Press

Christopher Reynolds, The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism? Make a donation here.

federal government

Just Posted

Soccer games returned to Max Turyk in Fernie this May and June, after a year-long break due to COVID. (Contributed by Yori Jamin)
Fernie kids get stuck into soccer

Youth soccer games returned to Max Turyk for May and June after a year-long break

A small scale example of how big the maximus dinosaur is compared to Sparwood's Titan truck. (Image courtesy of District of Sparwood)
Sparwood goes digging for fossils (maybe)

The district is exploring options that could see it acquire a giant dinosaur skeleton

Pride and Transgender flags wave on the lawn of Fernie's City Hall. (Soranne Floarea/ The Free Press)
Fernie Pride launches inclusivity survey

The survey will help identify gaps in supports for the LGBTQ2+ community in the Elk Valley

The freshly re-painted rainbow crossings in Fernie in 2021. (Scott Tibballs / The Free Press)
Rainbow crossings come to Fernie

Volunteers painted the crossings at 3rd Ave and 5th Street in Fernie in pride colours

Coal Creek and forested land near Fernie, B.C. (Scott Tibballs / The Free Press)
Elk Valley Regional Land Trust inks deal with Community Foundation of Kootenay Rockies

Donations to the trusts project to secure forested land in the Elk Valley can now be made through the CFKR

People watch a car burn during a riot following game 7 of the NHL Stanley Cup final in downtown Vancouver, B.C., in this June 15, 2011 photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Geoff Howe
10 years ago: Where were you during the 2011 Vancouver Stanley Cup Riots?

Smashed-in storefronts, looting, garbage can fires and overturned cars some of the damage remembered today

(Black Press Media file)
Dirty money: Canadian currency the most germ-filled in the world, survey suggests

Canadian plastic currency was found to contain 209 bacterial cultures

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

(pixabay file shot)
B.C. ombudsperson labels youth confinement in jail ‘unsafe,’ calls for changes

Review states a maximum of 22 hours for youth, aged 12 from to 17, to be placed in solitary

Grace (left), a caribou that was born in a maternal pen north of Revelstoke, is alive and well said the province. It appears she even has a calf. Maternity pens aim to increase caribou calf survival by protecting them from predation until they are older and less vulnerable. (Contributed)
For the first time in years, caribou numbers increasing near Revelstoke

North herd growing but south herd still concerning

Eleonore Alamillo-Laberge, 6, reads a book in Ottawa on Monday, June 12, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Parents will need to fight ‘COVID learning slump’ over summer: B.C. literacy experts

Parents who play an active role in educating their children this summer can reverse the slump by nearly 80%, says Janet Mort

Kelowna General Hospital. (File photo)
COVID-19 outbreak at Kelowna General Hospital declared over

Three people tested positive for the virus — two patients and one staff — one of whom died

The border crossing on Highway 11 in Abbotsford heading south (file)
Western premiers call for clarity, timelines on international travel, reopening rules

Trudeau has called Thursday meeting, premiers say they expect to leave that meeting with a plan

Most Read