Ya’ara Saks supports Palestine motion after controversial meeting with Holocaust denier

Liberal Minister Ya'ara Saks is the subject of a brewing controversy after she held hands with West Bank president and Holocaust denier Mahmoud Abbas. On Monday, she added fuel to the fire by supporting a motion to recognize the Palestinian state while Hamas remains in charge.

Ya’ara Saks supports Palestine motion after controversial meeting with Holocaust denier
X / melaniejoly
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The motion on Palestinian statehood passed a non-binding vote in the House of Commons Monday evening, earning the support of Liberal Jewish MP Ya’ara Saks.

The opposition motion passed in the eleventh hour of debate after the New Democrats passed 14 last-minute amendments proposed by the Liberal Party.

Among the amendments included support for "the establishment of the State of Palestine as part of a negotiated two-state solution." The first reading of the motion called for Canada to unilaterally recognize a Palestinian State.

Liberal MP Salma Zahid urged parliamentarians to support the motion, claiming Canadians are demanding action.

"Either we stand for human rights everywhere and for everyone, or we don't," she said. "Let's be able to tell our next generation we were on the right side of history."

With the exception of MPs Anthony Housefather, Marco Mendicino, and Ben Carr, the entire Liberal caucus supported the controversial motion, Saks included.

Housefather said the motion creates "a false equivalency between the state of Israel and the terrorist organization of Hamas."

The Liberal minister is the subject of a brewing controversy after she held hands with West Bank President Mahmoud Abbas Thursday evening, an avid anti-Semite, Holocaust denier and terrorism supporter.

“In the West Bank, we met with President Abbas to discuss the humanitarian crisis in Gaza, the future governance of the Palestinian Authority and the work to advance towards a two-state solution,” Foreign Affairs Minister Mélanie Joly wrote in a post to X, formerly Twitter.

“Together, we must work towards a solution that allows both Israelis and Palestinians to live in peace. We cannot give up on that vision for the future, no matter how hard it is at this moment to see the path forward,” added Saks.

Sponsored by NDP foreign affairs critic Heather McPherson, the motion also called upon Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to demand a ceasefire in the Gaza Strip.

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

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

Another amendment finally recognized Hamas as a "terrorist organization," while affirming Israel’s right to defend itself. The motion also demanded Hamas release all hostages and cease all operations.

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

Meanwhile, her caucus colleague Michelle Rempel Garner reiterated that foreign policy can't be altered on the fly with "an eleventh-hour" amendment process.

"This is such a serious issue and it's so important that Canada shows leadership and gets it right," Rempel Garner told CBC News ahead of the vote. "So, what happened is very much the exact opposite of that."

Still, Joly emerged from the vote proud of their efforts to find "common ground" on an issue that "Canadians have been very concerned about." 

Before the vote, she informed MPs that the Liberal approach to the ongoing Israel-Palestine conflict would not change, regardless of the result.

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," he said. Andrew Scheer clarified that is already Canadian foreign policy.

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