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Canada's vote at the UN represents an “evolution” of the Canadian position and not a “turnaround”, according to a former diplomat.

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Ceasefire in Gaza: no unanimity among the liberals | Close -East, the eternal conflict

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Anthony Housefather, federal Liberal MP for Mount Royal, spoke said disappointed with Canada's support for the ceasefire resolution.

  • Rania Massoud (View profile)Rania Massoud

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Shared between “disappointment”, “concerns” and “relief,” Liberal Party of Canada (PLC) MPs attended their last caucus meeting of the year on Wednesday, the day after Canada voted at the United Nations General Assembly united, for a resolution calling for a ceasefire in the Gaza Strip.

With this vote at the UN, Justin Trudeau's government declared itself for the first time in favor of a lasting cessation of hostilities between Israel and Hamas in the Gaza Strip, while Ottawa had until then preferred to speak of humanitarian breaks.

The non-binding resolution was adopted on Tuesday with an overwhelming majority of 153 votes in favor, 10 against and 23 abstentions, out of 193 member states. Like the previous text adopted at the end of October, the resolution did not condemn Hamas, to the great dismay of the United States and Israel, who voted against.

The war between Israel and Hamas, which entered its 68th day on Wednesday, was triggered by a bloody and unprecedented attack perpetrated by the Palestinian Islamist movement on Israeli soil on October 7 from the Gaza Strip .

According to Israel, 1,200 people, mostly civilians, were killed in the attack and around 240 others were kidnapped and taken to Gaza. A total of 135 hostages remain in Gaza, including bodies, according to the army. Around a hundred hostages were released as part of a truce at the end of November in exchange for Palestinian prisoners incarcerated by Israel.

After the October 7 attack, Israel vowed to annihilate Hamas, shelling the besieged Palestinian territory and carrying out a vast ground operation since October 27. Hamas' health ministry reported 18,412 deaths in Israeli bombings on Tuesday, mostly women and children.

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In Ottawa, differences were palpable on Wednesday within the party when elected officials were questioned on this subject before their caucus meeting. I am very disappointed by Canada's vote at the UN, immediately declared the MP for Mount Royal, Anthony Housefather.

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Palestinians search for victims of Israeli bombing in Rafah, southern Gaza Strip.

According to him, Canada's position at the UN goes against the joint statement published the day before by Prime Minister Trudeau and his Australian counterparts, Anthony Albanese, and New Zealander, Christopher Luxon, who defend Israel's right in its war against Hamas in the Gaza Strip.

In this statement, the three leaders also said they support urgent international efforts towards a lasting ceasefire. But this cannot be unilateral. […] Hamas must release all hostages, stop using Palestinian civilians as human shields and lay down their arms, they say.

For me, if Hamas does not lay down its arms, there should be no ceasefire. […] We supported a resolution which targets and stigmatizes Israel, our ally, at a time when Israel is at war.

A quote from Anthony Housefather, federal MP for Mount Royal

Same story with Ben Carr, the federal MP for Winnipeg South Centre, who said he was worried about this vote at the UN.

The resolution, in my view, does not sufficiently condemn Hamas and does not demand disarmament [of the Palestinian Islamist movement] as a precondition for a ceasefire, he noted.

Nobody wants the violence to continue, everyone wants the conflict to end as quickly as possible. The question is what conditions must be met to end the war, he added.

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Karina Gould, Liberal Leader in the House of Commons.

Liberal Leader in the House of Commons, Karina Gould, a descendant of Holocaust survivors, also agreed.

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To achieve a ceasefire, we must ensure that all hostages held by Hamas are released, that Gaza can no longer serve as a platform for terrorism, and that Hamas lays down its arms and can no longer be part of #x27;a future government in Gaza.

A quote from Karina Gould, Liberal Leader in the House of Commons

We want to protect civilians both in Israel and in Gaza, continued Ms. Gould. We will continue to work to ensure that Israelis and Palestinians can live in peace and security.

Several other elected liberals, however, were not of the same opinion as their colleagues.

Scarborough Center Liberal MP Salma Zahid, who chairs the Canada-Palestine Parliamentary Friendship Group, said she is grateful that Canada voted in favor of a ceasefire in the Gaza Strip .

This is a first step, she assured, recalling the serious humanitarian crisis plaguing this small, overpopulated and besieged Palestinian territory.< /p>

According to her, Canada can and must play an important role in protecting civilians […] and establishing lasting peace in the Middle East.

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Fayçal El-Khoury, federal deputy for Laval–Les Îles.

Fayçal El-Khoury, federal MP for Laval–Les Îles, welcomed Canada's vote at the UN, affirming that any decision that aims to save human lives is a gift from God. I am really happy, he said, while emphasizing the importance of stopping hostilities on both sides of the border between the Gaza Strip and Israel.

Like Ms. Zahid, he also believes that Canada can play a greater role on the international scene in favor of lasting peace with the creation of two states living side by side.

I am of Lebanese origin, I have experienced war and I know how difficult it is. I support any decision to reduce [the intensity] of the war.

A quote from Fayçal El-Khoury, federal deputy for Laval–Les Îles

Despite the discordant voices noted within the PLC, officials refused to speak of schism.

The liberal caucus is a reflection of the country, it is a very diverse caucus [bringing together] people who come from different communities, which creates challenges when we have to make decisions based on what is happening on the planet, the Minister of Services judged on Wednesday. Public and Procurement, Jean-Yves Duclos.

We are very united, assured the Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry, François-Philippe Champagne. Everyone must campaign for peace, this is the message that emerges from Canada's vote at the UN, according to him.

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Scene of the burial of an Israeli soldier killed in Gaza.

Asked whether resignations are expected within the PLC following this vote, the Minister of Tourism, Soraya Martinez Ferrada, assured that she and her colleagues were focusing on the issues that concern Canadians.< /p>

The caucus is united on what we must deliver to Canadians. I think there is empathy to be had about the disaster in the Middle East, but, currently, we [work] for Canadians and, on this, we are really united, she maintained.

While the New Democratic Party (NDP) has already declared itself in favor of a permanent ceasefire since October 23, most Conservative MPs avoided questions from journalists on this subject on Wednesday.

Only Quebec senator Pierre-Hugues Boisvenu commented on Canada's vote at the UN, believing that Ottawa is making a mistake in not not aligning with the United States.

I would have voted against it, he said. As long as they have in their [Hamas] program the elimination of Israel, a ceasefire, for me, it is a license to start again.< /p>Open in full screen mode

The remains of Palestinians who lost their lives in Israeli raids on Gaza are gathered in Khan Yunis.

Bloc leader Yves-François Blanchet welcomed the change in position of Justin Trudeau's government which is very close to that of his party, but much later, perhaps be too much.

There are divisions within the other caucuses, perhaps, but there would have been even more, I think, if the government had not voted in favor, said Mr. Blanchet in press briefing in front of his caucus.

Asked to comment on Canada's position at the UN on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, former Canadian ambassador to the United Nations Louise Blais prefers talk about an evolution rather than a turnaround.

Nothing is perfect at the UN. This is the nature of multiculturalism. We negotiate, we push our positions, but we also listen to reach agreements.

A quote from Louise Blais, former diplomat

In October, Canada abstained from voting on a General Assembly resolution for an immediate, lasting and sustained humanitarian truce, after failing to have the resolution amended to include an explicit condemnation of the attacks on Hamas.

Canada has always supported Israel even when it meant that we were isolated or in the minority at the UN, explains Ms. Blais. However, after a month of bombing […] the humanitarian situation on the ground in Gaza has become untenable.

Although Canada would have liked the resolution includes a condemnation of Hamas for the October 7 attacks, when this amendment failed, ultimately Canada joined the majority of the General Assembly in defending the principle of protection of civilians and international law , she added.

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