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

Greater father involvement in the home leads to improved childhood development and increased marital satisfaction, says expert. (Black Press Media file photo)
University of Victoria researcher finds lack of father involvement a drag on gender equality

Working women still taking on most child and household duties in Canada

New COVID-19 cases on Vancouver Island by local health area for the week of June 6-12. (B.C. Centre for Disease Control image)
New COVID-19 cases up on Island, but health officials say trends going right way

There were 22 new COVID-19 cases in Greater Victoria last week after just four the week before

Emergency health services treated a person after they were blocking traffic at the intersection of Fort and Douglas Streets on June 17. (Evert Lindquist/ News Staff)
Victoria intersection traffic returns to normal after protester blocked roadway

A person in a motorized wheelchair was blocking the intersection at Fort and Douglas Streets

Eric White’s roadside farm stand in Metchosin sits stocked with produce. (Photo courtesy of Eric White)
Fledgling Metchosin farmer frustrated by thefts from stand

Eric White said every dollar made at the roadside helps sustain his farm

Saanich police took a suspect into custody after a store employee on Cedar Hill Cross Road was assaulted Wednesday afternoon. (Black Press Media file photo)
Employee assaulted at Saanich store after asking suspected shoplifters to leave

June 16 incident saw worker taken to hospital with non-life-threatening injuries

People line up to get their COVID-19 vaccine at a vaccination centre, Thursday, June 10, 2021 in Montreal. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Vaccines, low COVID case counts increase Father’s Day hope, but risk is still there

Expert says people will have to do their own risk calculus before popping in on Papa

(Black Press Media file photo)
POLL: When was the last time you visited the mainland?

The films are again lighting the screens at local theatres, the wine… Continue reading

Anyone with information on any of these individuals is asked to call 1-800-222-TIPS (8477) or visit the website victoriacrimestoppers.ca for more information.
Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers wanted list for the week of June 15

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

The Co-op gas station at Whiskey Creek is burning after a camper van exploded while refueling just before 4 p.m. on Thursday, June 17, 2021. (FACEBOOK PHOTO)
Exploding camper van torches Highway 4 gas station between Qualicum Beach and Port Alberni

Highway traffic blocked after Whiskey Creek gas station erupts into flames

Helen Austin performing with Trent Freeman at the 2018 Vancouver Island MusicFest. Austin is one of the many performers listed for the 2021 event.
Vancouver Island MusicFest goes virtual for 2021

Black Press to stream 25 hours of programming July 9-11

FILE – A science class at L.A. Matheson Secondary in Surrey, B.C. on March 12, 2021. (Lauren Collins/Surrey Now Leader)
Teachers’ union wants more COVID transmission data as B.C. prepares for back-to-school

BCTF says that details will be important as province works on plan for September

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry outlines B.C.’s COVID-19 restart plan, May 25, 2021, including larger gatherings and a possible easing of mandatory masks on July 1. (B.C. government photo)
B.C. records 120 new COVID-19 cases, second vaccines accelerating

Lower Pfizer deliveries for early July, Moderna shipments up

A Heffley Creek peacock caught not one - but two - lifts on a logging truck this month. (Photo submitted)
Heffley Creek-area peacock hops logging trucks in search of love

Peacock hitched two lifts in the past month

The Calgary skyline is seen on Friday, Sept. 15, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
2 deaths from COVID-19 Delta variant in Alberta, 1 patient was fully immunized

Kerry Williamson with Alberta Health Services says the patients likely acquired the virus in the hospital

Most Read