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Joly wanted to soften the motion on the sale of weapons to Israel | Middle East, the eternal conflict

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Mélanie Joly, Minister of Foreign Affairs (Photo archives)

The Canadian Press

The consequences of the symbolic vote in the House of Commons on Monday, which notably calls on Canada to stop its arms exports to Israel, are still being felt in Ottawa, while the Liberal government faces criticism of the government. Israel, but also deputies from its own ranks.

Foreign Affairs Minister Mélanie Joly held a closed-door meeting with some Liberals Tuesday evening after three MPs voted against the motion, saying she was taken aback by the details of last-minute amendments to the House motion. NPD.

Follow our live coverage of the Israel-Hamas war for the latest news.

The New Democrats claim to have negotiated these changes with the Liberals several days before the vote, and Ms. Joly herself was still working with them Monday evening to refine the amendments.

NDP foreign affairs critic Heather McPherson maintains that just half an hour before the scheduled vote in the House, Minister Joly was pushing to further iron out the wording of the motion regarding arms exports to Israel.

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NDP MP Heather McPherson and NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh hold a news conference in the foyer of the House of Commons on the Hill Parliament in Ottawa, March 18, 2024.

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The final, non-binding version of the motion, approved by most Liberals, New Democrats and the Bloc, states that Canada should stop the approval and transfer of further arms exports to destination of Israel, which immediately aroused the wrath of the Israeli government.

Montreal Liberal MP Anthony Housefather, one of three Liberal MPs who voted against the motion Monday evening, said Tuesday that he was considering his future within the party.

He indicated Wednesday that he had not yet made a decision, but he was not present at the weekly Liberal caucus meeting, which he usually attends.

Several Liberal MPs said they had not yet contacted him, but planned to do so.

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Liberal MP for Mount Royal Anthony Housefather speaks to journalists as he goes to question period, March 19, 2024, in Ottawa .

The Liberals also had different views on the friction caused by the motion within the party, with some describing their meeting as filled with tension while others tried to present a united front.

Government House Leader Steve MacKinnon called the meeting a warm and emotional discussion, but rejected the idea that ;there were tensions within the caucus.

But Liberal MP John McKay said after their meeting that obviously Monday's vote caused friction, as the war between Israel and Hamas continues to cause tensions around the world, in their constituencies and in the caucus meeting room.

As the Liberals attempt to heal internal fractures, the international implications are also being felt: Immigration Minister Marc Miller acknowledged that this motion will not help Canada's efforts to get out of the Gaza Strip family members of Canadians stuck there. of the motion, that Canada was adopting a measure that would harm Israel's ability to defend itself.

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The first version of the NDP motion on Canada's measures to promote peace in the Middle East stipulated that Canada should suspend all trade in military goods and technology with Israel, which would have canceled all permits to export it. existing export licenses with the Jewish state.

Global Affairs Canada said there are currently no open permits for #x27;export of deadly goods to Israel.

Since January 8, the government has not approved any new arms export permits to Israel and this will continue until we can ensure full compliance with our arms regime. x27;export.

A quote from Excerpt from a written statement from Global Affairs Canada

Export permits issued before January 8 are still in effect. Given the nature of the supply chain, suspending all open permits would have significant implications for both Canada and its allies, the department adds.

Although the final text of the motion only talks about weapons, Joly's office said the freeze applies to all military goods and technology. For example, a university seeking to acquire a radar system subject to Canadian licensing rules would also be delayed in the approval process under the January 8 order.

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Israel wants to import light armored vehicles from the Roshel factory in Mississauga, Ontario.

MP McPherson, sponsor of the House motion, said that the NDP was finally ready to back down a little on the issue of arms exports to Israel.

She said that Minister Joly approached her in the opposition lobby of the House around 7 p.m. Monday evening, barely 30 minutes before the scheduled vote. Ms. Joly then tried to push for even softer wording than was in the final motion, Ms. McPherson argued.

[The liberals] did not want to expose themselves to the responsibility of canceling arms contracts. We said no. We left.

A quote from Heather McPherson, NDP Foreign Affairs Critic

The negotiations ultimately depended on what the Liberals would be willing to do to help the people of Gaza right now, says McPherson. It comes down to three red lines, she says: stop the sale of arms to the Israeli government, support the International Court of Justice, and impose sanctions on extremist settlers in the West Bank.

The language surrounding supporting the work of the International Court of Justice does not specify how Canada should do so. But McPherson says it shows we support organizations that could hold Hamas responsible for the October 7 attacks on Israel, which sparked this war in the Gaza Strip.

The Liberal government had also indicated earlier that it was considering sanctioning Israelis accused of violence in the West Bank.

Each time we have worked with the liberals, every time we looked at something they proposed, we took it to members of the community, to progressive Jews, to people who have experience on the ground in Gaza, McPherson said. It was not an easy job.

The New Democrats did not come out of this vote unscathed either. On Wednesday, MP Brian Masse apologized for making a comment in the House that linked the ceasefire and the fight against anti-Semitism.

I would like to apologize to everyone who was affected by this comment. I am committed to repairing the damage that has been caused, he declared.

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