In response to inquiries from party supporters, NDP leader Jagmeet Singh has put forward 13 specific demands to the federal government for a more human rights-oriented approach to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
"The Liberal government’s record on this issue is more than disappointing: it flies in the face of their claim to stand up for human rights and international law," Singh said in an email to supporters, where he laid out the NDP's calls to action.
There can be no peace in Israel and Palestine until Israel ends its 55-year "illegal occupation" of Palestinian territory, the email notes.
This comes the week after Israeli occupation forces raided the West Bank offices of six human rights groups, which it had labelled terrorist organizations in October 2021 based on spurious allegations of ties to the armed wing of the secular leftist Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine.
Sam Hersh, an Ottawa-based Jewish advocate for Palestinian human rights, said the party "has come a long way" in supporting justice for Palestine, which he attributed to "efforts from the grassroots membership."
NDP foreign affairs critic Heather McPherson told The Maple that on the question of Palestine, the Canadian government "continuously fails to stand up for human rights and fails to act in a way that is ethical."
"I abhor violence against civilians, regardless of whether they are Palestinian or Jewish. There's definitely been violence against civilians from both sides. But in recognizing the asymmetrical nature of this conflict, Canada has an obligation to do more," McPherson said.
She said Foreign Affairs Minister Mélanie Joly refuses to explain why the Liberals reject Amnesty International's finding that Israel engages in apartheid against the Palestinians — a finding shared by Human Rights Watch, as well as Israeli human rights groups B'Tselem and Yesh Din.
McPherson, who represents the Edmonton-Strathcona riding in the House of Commons, has been one of the more forceful voices in support of Ukraine in the face of Russia's illegal invasion.
She said she finds the contrast between Canada's approach to Russia's occupation of Ukraine and Israel's occupation of Palestine stark:
I don't understand, for example, why Canada will not support an ICC investigation into the conflict in Israel and Palestine when they are supportive of an ICC investigation into the conflict in Ukraine with Russia. We've been told in the past that it's because Israel is not a signatory to the Rome Statute, but neither is Russia nor Ukraine. The lens isn't the same. We're picking and choosing human rights.
This selective approach to human rights doesn't only apply to the situation in Palestine, McPherson added. Canada has also been relatively silent about the Saudi war on Yemen, which has killed approximately 377,000 people, 70 per cent of whom are estimated to be children under the age of five.
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