I have received a lot of emails from constituents, and I too have been following the situation in Gaza, Jerusalem and the West Bank closely. I am both worried and angry about what has been happening, and I strongly condemn the killing of innocent people.
As president of the Canada-Palestine Parliamentary Friendship Group, I have been closely in contact with the Palestinian Ambassador to Canada. I also convened a meeting of this all-party group last week to hear from Ambassador Hala Abou-Hassira as well as Michael Lynk, United Nations Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian Territory. I wanted to make sure MPs and Senators had the latest direct information on the terrible situation facing the Palestinian people. There will be further multi-partisan action from this group very soon.
I have also been in regular contact with the government, including Foreign Affairs Minister Garneau and the Prime Minister’s office. My message to them has been clear, consistent and strong: Canada must stand up for human rights.
I have raised the plight of the Palestinian families facing eviction from their homes in Sheikh Jarrah, and the need to condemn the actions of Israeli police at the Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem while observing the last Friday of Ramadan. These are unacceptable violations of human rights that must be strongly condemned by Canada and by all nations.
I have also called for an end to provocative actions that make it harder to reduce tensions and resume dialogue towards a two-state solution – the Israeli government policy of settlement expansion and territorial annexation is contrary to a lasting and just peace in the region and must end immediately.
Sadly, tensions have continued to escalate. The death of innocent civilians, especially children, in Israeli air strikes, has been horrifying. I have publicly called on Israel to end the air strikes and replace violence with dialogue. I condemn the death of these innocents. The violence must end.
Canada has long been a voice for human rights, both at home and around the world. My message to the leadership of our government, publicly and privately, has been this: Canada must live up to these ideals by standing up for the Palestinian people.
I believe Canada can and must go further, and I will continue to use all the resources at my disposal to bring the voice of the Palestinian people to our government, ensure that it is heard, and push the government to take a stronger stand for human rights and an end to the violence.