Canadian Parliament votes to officially recognize Palestinian State

The motion on Palestinian statehood, plagued with last-minute amendments, passed the House of Commons 204 to 118. Liberal MPs Andrew Housefather, Ben Carr, Marco Mendicino, and Independent Kevin Vuong voted with the Conservative caucus against the NDP motion. 

Parliament votes to officially recognize the State of Palestine
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A motion on Palestinian statehood has passed a non-binding vote in the House of Commons.

The motion was brought forward by the NDP's foreign affairs critic Heather McPherson, who called upon Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to demand a ceasefire in the Gaza Strip and to "officially" recognize "the State of Palestine."

However, 14 last-minute amendments were added to the motion, embroiling the House of Commons in a heated debate late into the evening.

Conservative MP Andrew Scheer brought a point of order, arguing that the late amendments contradicted the motion's spirit. Still, Deputy Speaker Chris d'Entremont allowed the vote to go forward, passing 204 to 118. 

Liberal MPs Andrew Housefather, Ben Carr, and Marco Mendicino, and Independent Kevin Vuong, voted with the Conservative caucus against the NDP motion. 

The first reading of the motion called for Canada to unilaterally recognize a Palestinian State.

The first amendment, one of just 14 inserted just moments before the scheduled vote, called for an end to "illegal Israeli settlements and "settler violence" described as obstacles to peace. The motion demanded an end to the so-called "illegal occupation of Palestinian territories." 

A further amendment called for "work toward a negotiated two-state solution," which Scheer noted was already Canadian foreign policy. Scheer suggested the amendment negated the original motion and was procedurally out of order. 

The opposition motion also sparked controversy before Monday’s vote after Foreign Affairs Minister Mélanie Joly informed MPs that the Liberal approach to the ongoing Israel-Palestine conflict would not change, regardless of the result.

Israel launched a military campaign in the Gaza Strip following acts of terror on October 7 by Hamas, which left 1,200 innocent civilians dead in southern Israel and nearly 240 Israelis and foreign nationals taken hostage.

Gaza’s health ministry claimed that the conflict has left more than 31,000 people dead and displaced nearly two million more, with the majority of victims either women or children. Those statistics remain disputed.

"Of course, there are issues with the motion that is presented by the NDP, and we can't change foreign policy based on an opposition motion," said Joly.

Conservative foreign affairs critic Michael Chong said his party backs a two-state solution but cautioned against making a "unilateral declaration in the House of Commons."

"It can only be achieved through a long, arduous process that will take months, if not years, of negotiations between the two parties at hand, the State of Israel and representatives of the Palestinian people," he said.

"It would be immoral for Canada to demand that Israel lay down its right to defend itself against a terrorist organization that slaughtered innocent Israelis and still holds 134 hostages captive," added Conservative MP Rachael Thomas.

"Conservatives unequivocally condemn Hamas," she said. "They must lay down their weapons, free the hostages, and surrender all terrorists involved in the genocidal acts of Oct 7th."

While the federal government can ignore the result of the free vote, it could create a wedge within an already divided Liberal caucus.

The NDP, which continues to support Prime Minister Justin Trudeau for another term, has expressed its disappointment at his lacklustre approach to the conflict.

"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 boasted in a statement. Seemingly ignoring the brutality of Hamas, Singh noted that both Palestinians and Israelis deserve a peaceful coexistence, reiterating the need for a ceasefire.

The current climate within Parliament on Israel-Palestine represents a swift departure from former Prime Minister Stephen Harper's support for the Jewish state.

"The understanding that it is right to support Israel because, after generations of persecution, the Jewish people deserve their own homeland and deserve to live safely and peacefully in that homeland," he said during a speech to the Israeli Knesset.

"Let me repeat that: Canada supports Israel because it is right to do so."

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