Canada parliament to vote on motion backing Palestinian statehood

By David Ljunggren

OTTAWA (Reuters) – Canadian legislators are due on Monday to vote on a non-binding motion backing Palestinian statehood that has drawn condemnation from Israel and that could deepen splits inside the ruling Liberal Party.

Although the government is free to ignore the result of the vote in the House of Commons elected chamber, it could cause political problems for Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

The motion was drawn up by the minority left-leaning New Democrats (NDP), who are helping keep Trudeau’s Liberals in power and are unhappy by what they see as his failure to do enough to protect the civilian population in Gaza.

“Justin Trudeau could take bold steps for peace and justice, but he doesn’t have the courage. That’s why we brought a motion to force the Liberal government to finally help end this bloodshed,” NDP leader Jagmeet Singh said in a statement, saying Palestinians and Israelis both deserve to live in peace.

Last week, Canada said it had paused non-lethal military exports to Israel since January because of the rapidly evolving situation on the ground. Trudeau, while asserting Israel’s right to defend itself, has taken an increasingly critical stance over the military campaign in Gaza.

The motion calls on Canada to “officially recognize the State of Palestine” – a step that no member of the Group of Seven industrialised nations has taken – and suspend all trade in military goods and technology with Israel.

It also demands an immediate ceasefire, an end to illegal arms transfers to Hamas and calls on the group to release all the hostages it took during the Oct. 7 attacks.

There are clear signs of division inside the Liberal caucus over policy towards the Gaza conflict, with prominent backbench legislators variously backing and opposing the motion.

Israeli ambassador Iddo Moed on Monday issued a statement condemning the vote and saying “empowering terrorists will only evoke more bloodshed and jeopardize any peaceful resolution to the conflict”.

NDP foreign affairs spokeswoman Heather McPherson said the motion was designed to be aligned with international law rather than causing problems for the Liberals.

“We’re hopeful that we will have some support from the Liberals and we’re certainly seeing more movement from them over the last few days,” she told the Canadian Broadcasting Corp.

New Democrat officials said the vote was likely to take place at some point after 4 pm ET (2000 GMT).

(Reporting by David Ljunggren; Editing by Sharon Singleton)

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