Canada will honour resolution blocking military exports to Israel

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau voiced concern over Israeli military plans for Rafah city in Gaza

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has voiced concerns about Israel's planned offensive in Rafah. Reuters
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Canada will honour a non-binding motion in the House of Commons and halt all future military exports to Israel.

The decision comes after a back-and-forth parliamentary session that stretched into the late hours of Monday night, with the Liberal government making several amendments to a motion led by the New Democratic Party that called for tougher action on the Israel-Gaza war.

The original motion called for Canada to "suspend all trade in military goods and technology with Israel and increase efforts to stop the illegal trade of arms, including to Hamas".

After several hours of back-channel debate, the motion was watered down to “cease the further authorisation and transfer of arms exports to Israel to ensure compliance with Canada’s arms export regime and increase efforts to stop the illegal trade of arms, including to Hamas".

Canada has not sent lethal aid to Israel since the war started after October 7, a senior government source told The National.

On that date, Hamas militants stormed southern Israel and killed about 1,200 people, kidnapping another 240.

"The situation in Gaza is evolving so rapidly that it has impacted our ability to assess the permits to Israel and so, because of that, we have not approved any export permits since January 8," the source said.

While the source would not disclose exactly what kind of equipment Canada supplied to Israel, they said it tended to be telecommunications equipment and defensive equipment such as body armour and night-vision goggles.

Kelsey Gallagher, a researcher at Project Ploughshares, an organisation that focuses on peace and disarmament, said that Canada sent about $21 million worth of equipment to Israel in 2022.

"The vast majority of what Canada exports to Israel is not what we would refer to as full systems but instead parts and components," Mr Gallagher told The National.

"So these are the pieces of equipment that comprise full systems. And when we say full systems, we are thinking of things like tanks or military aircraft."

Canada's decision to adhere to the motion was rebuked by Israel.

"It's regrettable that the Canadian government is taking a step that undermines Israel's right to self-defence against Hamas terrorists, who have committed terrible crimes against humanity and against innocent Israeli civilians, including the elderly, women and children," Israel's Minister of Foreign Affairs, Israel Katz said on X.

"History will judge Canada's current action harshly."

Parliament passed the non-binding motion 204-117, as it gained widespread support among Liberals, New Democrats and members of the Bloc Quebecois.

The motion more broadly focused on calling for efforts towards a two-state solution in Palestine and Israel.

Countries globally have expressed worries as Israel's war of retaliation to the deadly Hamas attack in October has resulted in more than 31,800 deaths, according to the Gaza Health Ministry.

Mr Trudeau also "shared his concern around Israel's planned offensive in the southern Gaza city of Rafah and the severe humanitarian implications for all civilians taking refuge in the area", his office said on Monday.

The senior source said the government would now have to review the motion more carefully and to see how it pertains to permits passed before January 8.

Updated: March 19, 2024, 9:57 PM