Trudeau urges pause in Israel-Hamas conflict, backs ‘sustainable ceasefire’

Click to play video: 'Israel-Hamas: International foreign ministers strengthen calls for “sustainable” ceasefire'
Israel-Hamas: International foreign ministers strengthen calls for “sustainable” ceasefire
WATCH: As Israel’s war on Gaza continues, international pressure for a ceasefire is growing stronger — even from within. On a visit to Israel over the weekend, France’s foreign minister called for an immediate ceasefire, following statements from her German and UK counterparts supporting the demand, so long as it “is sustainable.” Redmon Shannon has the latest – Dec 17, 2023

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is calling for a resumption of a pause in the Israel-Hamas conflict, and says Canada supports efforts “towards a sustainable ceasefire.”

This comes from a joint statement issued Tuesday from Trudeau and his Australian and New Zealand counterparts.

Canada later voted in favour of a resolution in the United Nations General Assembly on Tuesday that calls for an “immediate humanitarian ceasefire” in Gaza and the immediate release of all hostages. The non-binding measure received overwhelming support from the international body.

Click to play video: 'Palestinian ambassador praises Canada’s UN vote calling for ceasefire'
Palestinian ambassador praises Canada’s UN vote calling for ceasefire

Prior to question period, Trudeau told reporters that he spoke with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu prior to the UN vote.

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“I just got off the phone with a long and detailed conversation with Prime Minister Netanyahu of Israel in which I outlined Canada’s position. And we are committed to working with partners in the region and around the world towards an enduring two-state solution,” Trudeau said.

“Canada is committed to ensuring that Israelis and Palestinians get to live in peace and security within internationally recognized borders in peaceful and successful states.”

Click to play video: 'Israel-Hamas: Trudeau warns the ‘cost of justice’ cannot be the ‘continued suffering of all Palestinian civilians’'
Israel-Hamas: Trudeau warns the ‘cost of justice’ cannot be the ‘continued suffering of all Palestinian civilians’

In his comment, Trudeau did not say “ceasefire,” instead that Canada put out a “clear and comprehensive statement” on the country’s Middle East position.

In the earlier statement from Trudeau and his counterparts, it goes on to say that it recognizes Israel’s right to defend itself in the wake of the deadly Oct. 7 attacks by Hamas that Israel says killed 1,200 people and in which 240 people were taken hostage.

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“In defending itself, Israel must respect international humanitarian law. Civilians and civilian infrastructure must be protected. We are alarmed at the diminishing safe space for civilians in Gaza,” the statement says. “The price of defeating Hamas cannot be the continuous suffering of all Palestinian civilians.”

Gaza’s Hamas-run Health Ministry says more than 18,000 people have been killed in the conflict since the Oct. 7 attacks.

“We must recognize that what is unfolding before our eyes will only enhance the cycle of violence,” Foreign Affairs Minister Melanie Joly said Tuesday on Parliament Hill.

“This will not lead to the durable defeat of Hamas, which is necessary, and the threat that it poses to Israel. With the future of Israelis and Palestinians in mind, Canada is joining the international call for humanitarian ceasefire.”

Canada has stated from the beginning that Israel has the right to defend itself, Joly said. “And how Israel defends itself matters. It matters for the future of both Israelis and Palestinians, and it matters for the future of the region,” she added.

Click to play video: '‘The world’s conscience is dead’: Gazans hit by Israeli strikes concentrated in south'
‘The world’s conscience is dead’: Gazans hit by Israeli strikes concentrated in south

During the UN debate over the ceasefire motion, Ambassador Bob Rae maintained that Canada “continues to unequivocally condemn Hamas’ brutal terrorist attacks” on Israel, but noted the growing humanitarian crisis affecting innocent Palestinians.

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“We are alarmed at the diminishing safe space for civilians in Gaza,” he said. “The price of defeating Hamas cannot be the continuous suffering of Palestinian civilians.”

The vote in the 193-member world body was 153 in favor, 10 against and 23 abstentions — stronger support than an earlier ceasefire resolution received in October. The United States voted against it after its proposed amendment to include condemnation of Hamas was voted down.

Yet U.S. President Joe Biden on Tuesday also shifted his rhetoric when speaking about the conflict, warning during a campaign reception that Israel was at risk of losing global support because of what he described as “indiscriminate bombing” of the Gaza Strip.

A Biden administration official told Global News there is no change to the U.S. position the opposes a ceasefire, adding on background that it continues to support temporary “humanitarian pauses” that allow aid into Gaza and for civilians to flee violence, as well as the safe return of hostages.

“What we do not support are calls for Israel to stop defending itself from Hamas terrorists, which is what a permanent ceasefire would be,” the official added.

The National Council of Canadian Muslims called the UN vote a “milestone” that needs to translate into “the reality of action and deeds.”

Yet the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs said it was “disgusted and frankly shocked” by Canada’s stance, given that the motion does not explicitly call out Hamas for its crimes or urge the group to surrender.

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“Canada’s decision to support the resolution will undoubtedly lead to further hate being directed towards Jews here in Canada,” it said in a written statement.

Hamas “cannot be rewarded and left unaccountable,” said the group, which represents Jewish federations across Canada.

In an interview with Global News, Israel’s ambassador to Canada Iddo Moed said the statements from Trudeau and Joly, as well as the UN vote, represented a change in Canada’s position on Israel and the conflict in Gaza.

“I think that it has changed for the worse in Israel’s eyes because calling for a ceasefire in a situation that Isael is forced into a war … actually does not strengthen us,” he said. “It emboldens the terrorists.”

Click to play video: 'Aid groups warn of starvation in Gaza after U.S. vetoes ceasefire call'
Aid groups warn of starvation in Gaza after U.S. vetoes ceasefire call

The joint statement from Trudeau, Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese and New Zealand Prime Minister Christopher Luxon says there is no place for Hamas in the future governance of Gaza.

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Trudeau has previously backed a “humanitarian pause” along with other western leaders in order to get aid into the Palestinian territory.

Those are different from ceasefires, which are formal temporary or longer-lasting agreements between parties or actors in a conflict to agree to end hostilities.

“The recent pause in hostilities allowed for the release of more than 100 hostages and supported an increase in humanitarian access to affected civilians. We acknowledge the persistent diplomatic efforts of the United States, Qatar, and Egypt to broker this pause, and we regret it could not be extended,” the statement issued Tuesday said.

“We want to see this pause resumed and support urgent international efforts towards a sustainable ceasefire. This cannot be one-sided. Hamas must release all hostages, stop using Palestinian civilians as human shields, and lay down its arms.”

The statement adds: “There is no role for Hamas in the future governance of Gaza.”

—With files from the Canadian Press

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