Canadian MPs Embark on Solidarity Trip to Israel Amid Tensions Between Trudeau and Netanyahu

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Liberal member of Parliament Anthony Housefather is among several Canadian lawmakers now in Israel as part of a larger delegation meant to show solidarity with the country. Sean Kilpatrick/The Canadian Press

A delegation of Canadian MPs arrived in Jerusalem on Monday, embarking on a solidarity visit amidst escalating diplomatic tensions between Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

According to CBC News, the group, comprising two Liberal and three Conservative MPs, is part of a larger delegation of around 60, including prominent Canadian Jewish leaders. The visit, which was planned quietly and before the recent criticisms from Netanyahu, aims to foster a deeper understanding among Canadian politicians of the situation in Israel following the Oct. 7 Hamas attacks.

Liberal MP Anthony Housefather, a member of the visiting group, emphasized the mission’s significance in a phone interview with CBC News. “I want to make sure that it is clear to Israelis that Canadians support them,” Housefather stated, reflecting on the visit’s objective to engage with Israeli counterparts and meet families affected by the recent violence.

An Israeli off duty soldier walks with a rifle in the Old City of Jerusalem © FADEL SENNA / AFP

The delegation’s itinerary includes various activities and meetings across Israel, focusing on the aftermath of the Oct. 7 attack by Hamas, a group designated as a terrorist entity in Canada. The MPs will also address the contentious issues surrounding the hostages taken during the assault and advocate for their immediate release.

The trip comes against the backdrop of heightened diplomatic friction, following Trudeau’s public call for Israel to exercise restraint in its military operations in Gaza, specifically to avoid civilian casualties. Trudeau’s remarks, made at an event in British Columbia, urged Israel to stop the “killing of women, children, and babies.”

Netanyahu responded sharply to Trudeau’s comments on social media, asserting, “It is not Israel that is deliberately targeting civilians but Hamas.” He further accused Hamas of committing atrocities against civilians and contrasted their actions with Israel’s efforts to minimize civilian harm.

Palestinians rescue survivors after an Israeli strike on Rafah, Gaza Strip, Friday, Nov. 17, 2023. While Israeli soldiers can be evacuated from the fighting, many Palestinians have nowhere to go. (Hatem Ali/The Associated Press)

The conflict’s toll continues to rise, with Israel reporting approximately 1,200 casualties from the Hamas attacks and an ongoing hostage situation. In contrast, Gaza’s Hamas-run health ministry cites over 12,300 fatalities due to Israel’s military response.

In light of Trudeau’s remarks, Housefather plans to highlight Canada’s supportive stance towards Israel since Trudeau’s election in 2015. He cited Canada’s voting record at the UN as evidence of consistent support, aiming to reassure Israeli counterparts of Canada’s alliance amidst the current tensions.

This visit, by facilitating direct dialogue and exchange, seeks to navigate the complex diplomatic landscape and reaffirm the longstanding relationship between Canada and Israel. As the MPs engage in their diplomatic mission, the international community watches closely, anticipating potential shifts in the dynamic between the two nations.