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

Two volunteers work to sieve a sample of sand and ocean water through a filter, capturing any potential microplastics. (Courtesy of Ocean Diagnostics)
Victoria startup making waves in microplastics research

New products from Ocean Diagnostics will make research faster, more affordable

Willows Beach in Oak Bay. (Black Press Media file photo)
Seven days of sun set to shine on Greater Victoria

Special weather statement warns of higher than usual temperatures

Chef Trevor Randle leads a June 21 online cooking featuring recipes – beef zesty lettuce wraps, blueberry strudel and blueberry spritzer. (Courtesy We Heart Local BC)
Free online cooking course explores B.C. blueberries and beef

Chef Trevor Randle calls them the province’s most flavourful foods

Google Maps shows significant traffic backups after a crash reported shortly before noon on Father’s Day, June 20. (Google Maps)
Father’s Day crash in Saanich closes lane of McKenzie Avenue

Police say there were injuries, traffic impacted

Victoria Regional Transit System routes 7 UVic/Downtown, 21 Interurban/Downtown and 53 Colwood/Langford will undergo changes as of June 28. (Black Press Media file photo)
Greater Victoria school routes scaled down for summer by BC Transit

Service changes take effect June 28, enhanced service returns this fall and winter

Jesse Roper tackles weeds in his garden to kick off the 2021 season of What’s In My Garden Man? (YouTube/Whats In My Garden)
VIDEO: Metchosin singer-songwriter Jesse Roper invites gardeners into his plot

What’s In My Garden, Man? kicks off with the poop on compost

A portion of the George Road wildfire burns near Lytton, B.C. in this Friday, June 18, 2021 handout photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO, BC Wildfire Service *MANDATORY CREDIT*
Blaze near Lytton spread across steep terrain, says BC Wildfire Service

Fire began Wednesday and is suspected to be human-caused, but remains under investigation

Blair Lebsack, owner of RGE RD restaurant, poses for a portrait in the dining room, in Edmonton, Friday, June 18, 2021. Canadian restaurants are having to find ways to deal with the rising cost of food. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Canadian restaurateurs grapple with rising food costs, menu prices expected to rise

Restaurants are a low margin industry, so there’s not a lot of room to work in additional costs

Cpl. Scott MacLeod and Police Service Dog Jago. Jago was killed in the line of duty on Thursday, June 17. (RCMP)
Abbotsford police, RCMP grieve 4-year-old service dog killed in line of duty

Jago killed by armed suspect during ‘high-risk’ incident in Alberta

A Lotto 6/49 ticket purchased in Parksville for the June 19, 2021 draw is a $3M winner. (Submitted photo)
Winning Lotto 6/49 ticket worth $3M purchased on Vancouver Island

Lottery prize winners have 52 weeks to claim jackpot

The George Road wildfire near Lytton, B.C., has grown to 250 hectares. (BC Wildfire Service)
B.C. drone sighting halts helicopters fighting 250 hectares of wildfire

‘If a drone collides with firefighting aircraft the consequences could be deadly,’ says BC Wildfire Service

Barbara Violo, pharmacist and owner of The Junction Chemist Pharmacy, draws up a dose behind vials of both Pfizer-BioNTech and Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines on the counter, in Toronto, Friday, June 18, 2021. An independent vaccine tracker website founded by a University of Saskatchewan student says just over 20 per cent of eligible Canadians — those 12 years old and above — are now fully vaccinated. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
At least 20% of eligible Canadians fully vaccinated, 75% with one dose: data

Earlier projections for reopening at this milestone didn’t include Delta variant

RCMP crest. (Black Press Media files)
Fort St. John man arrested after allegedly inviting sexual touching from children

Two children reported the incident to a trusted adult right away

Bruce Springsteen performs at the 13th annual Stand Up For Heroes benefit concert in support of the Bob Woodruff Foundation in New York on Nov. 4, 2019. (Greg Allen/Invision/AP)
Canadians who got AstraZeneca shot can now see ‘Springsteen on Broadway’

B.C. mayor David Screech who received his second AstraZeneca dose last week can now attend the show

Most Read