Liberal, NDP MPs bolt for the West Bank to stand in solidarity with Palestinians

Spearheaded by Liberal MP Salma Zahid, 22 MPs signed a letter last October demanding a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas. The continued pressure led to a UN ceasefire vote after Muslim donors ceased their support for the Liberal Party. Now, Zahid is heading to the West Bank.

Liberal, NDP MPs bolt for the West Bank to stand in solidarity with Palestinians
The Canadian Press / Spencer Colby and The Canadian Press / Adrian Wyld
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Five Canadian MPs have embarked on a week-long crusade to the Middle East in solidarity with Palestinian refugees and progressive groups sympathetic to the plight of Gazans.

Liberal MPs Salma Zahid and Shafqat Ali, along with New Democrat MPs Heather McPherson — the party's foreign affairs critic — Matthew Green, and Lindsay Mathyssen, arrived in Amman, Jordan, on January 14, continuing their calls for a ceasefire.

"What we have seen in the last three months is that it is a humanitarian crisis, and the situation also in the West Bank has been worsening," said Zahid, chair of the Canada–Palestine Parliamentary Friendship Group.

"I think it is really good to be on the ground to see, and to talk to some of the impacted families," she added.

Last December, a split within the Liberal caucus emerged after the party backed a UN resolution demanding a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas. 

Concerns of a split emerged after 22 Liberal MPs signed a letter spearheaded by Zahid to demand a ceasefire last October.

The Islamic terror group Hamas invaded southern Israel unprovoked on October 7, and proceeded to butcher 1,200 Israelis and foreign nationals. They kidnapped nearly 240 more people, with dozens still held hostage in northern Gaza.

The pressure pushed for a ceasefire vote at the UN General Assembly last December, after Muslim donors ceased their support for the Liberal Party.

Ottawa would later release a joint statement with Australia and New Zealand that clearly laid out its position on the war.

"This cannot be one-sided. Hamas must release all hostages, stop using Palestinian civilians as human shields and lay down its arms," the countries said.

"There is no role for Hamas in the future governance of Gaza,” they clarified.

While some suggest foul play is a foot, others say the calls for peace are just that.

Zahid, among the first MPs to call for a ceasefire, said she's "grateful" Canada supported the UN resolution. Her riding of Scarborough Centre consists of a large Muslim population.

Ali, the Liberal MP for Brampton-Centre, and Mathyssen, the NDP MP for London-Fanshawe, said their constituents expressed grave concern about the budding humanitarian crisis on the ground.

"I hope that Canada will rally international support to protect innocent civilians being killed in Palestine, in Gaza," said Zahid.

According to the Hamas-run health authority, about 23,000 people have been killed in Gaza since Israel launched its retaliatory military campaign last October.

"This is about protecting innocent civilians," continued the Scarborough MP. "This is about protecting children.” 

"Canada is known as a peacemaker, a peacebuilder," she added. "So, Canada should be a strong voice for a ceasefire in that region, to … put an end to the killing of innocent Palestinian people." 

"This region is in chaos and Canada needs to play a role, working with our allies," added McPherson.

"I think what this trip allows us to do is ... speak with some authority, because we will be on the ground,” she said. “We will speak with progressive Israeli organizations who are calling for peace."

A preliminary itinerary show stops in Jordan and the West Bank to speak with "affected" Palestinian communities, along with visits to refugee camps.

According to Reuters, Israeli forces have killed hundreds of Palestinians in the West Bank and have arrested thousands since October 7.

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