NDP pushing Liberals to recognize state of Palestine as U.K., U.S. signal openness

NDP pushing Liberals to recognize state of Palestine as U.K., U.S. signal openness
NDP MP and foreign affairs critic Heather McPherson tries to calm the room after a small number of delegates expressed their anger when the conflict with Gaza and Israel came up during the NDP convention on Saturday, October 14, 2023. McPherson plans to introduce a private member's motion that asks the Commons to recognize the occupied Palestinian territories as a full-fledged state.

New Democrats are calling on the Liberal government to have Canada formally recognize Palestine as a state, saying it would help advance peace in the Middle East.

“It’s time for Canada to do more, to build a peaceful resolution for the people of Palestine and the people of Israel,” NDP foreign affairs critic Heather McPherson said Tuesday.

McPherson will table a private member’s motion in the House of Commons that would recognize Palestinian territories as a sovereign state.

The motion should appear in parliamentary documents Wednesday but is unlikely to come up for a vote anytime soon. Still, McPherson is asking MPs to endorse it and pressure the federal government to follow through.

The British and U.S. governments have both recently said they’re considering fully recognizing Palestine once the Israel-Hamas war ends, she noted.

The Opposition Conservatives did not respond right away when asked if they would endorse the motion, while Foreign Affairs Minister MĂ©lanie Joly’s office did not directly answer the question.

“Canada believes that the only way to achieve the goal of a comprehensive, just, and lasting peace in the Middle East is in the form of a two-state solution, including the creation of a Palestinian state living side by side with Israel in peace and security,” wrote Joly’s spokeswoman Isabella Orozco-Madison.

McPherson announced her motion on Parliament Hill, flanked by a handful of fellow caucus members. NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh was not present, though his office said he and all caucus members endorse the motion.

For decades, the Canadian government has endorsed the eventual creation of a Palestinian country that exists in peace alongside Israel — the essence of what’s known as the two-state solution.

Canada currently recognizes the Palestinian territories as entities separate from Israel, but not as a state unto themselves. Similarly, Palestine has a diplomatic delegation and ambassador that is fully recognized by Ottawa but not as a country, similar to the European Union ambassador in Ottawa.

“I’ve never understood how the Liberals or the Conservatives can say that they believe in a two-state solution and not recognize two states,” McPherson said with a shrug.

Doing so would be a necessary step in order to push back against Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s ongoing efforts to thwart such an outcome, she said.

“From that position, then you can start having peaceful conversations, then you can start looking at what the state of Palestine would look like.”

Much of Asia and Africa already recognizes Palestine as a state. Mona Abuamara, the Palestinian ambassador to Canada, has been saying for months that Ottawa should do the same.

South Africa joined those calls following a January ruling by the International Court of Justice, which ordered Israel to prevent a genocide of Palestinians in the Gaza Strip.

By Dylan Robertson, The Canadian Press

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 13, 2024.

This is a corrected story. An earlier version misstated Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s title.

The Canadian PressThe Canadian Press

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