April 16th, 2024

Israel envoy says country can defend itself despite Canada ending future arms exports

By Dylan Robertson, The Canadian Press on March 21, 2024.

Israel's Ambassador to Canada Iddo Moed speaks at the National Holocaust Memorial in Ottawa on January 26, 2024. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld

OTTAWA – Israel’s ambassador to Canada isn’t saying whether this week’s vote in the House of Commons to end future arms exports to his country will actually impact the war with Hamas.

Iddo Moed says the vote was “really disturbing for many Israelis,” particularly at a time when they remain traumatized by the group Canada has deemed a terrorist organization.

Most Liberal MPs joined the NDP in backing a motion Monday calling on Canada to stop military exports to Israel for fear the war in the Gaza Strip is killing far too many Palestinians.

Foreign Affairs Minister Mélanie Joly also confirmed media reports that Canada stopped approving permits in early January out of human-rights concerns.

Israel’s foreign minister has said the vote will undermine Israel’s ability to defend itself.

But Moed would not say whether the motion will actually hurt Israel’s military campaign.

“I don’t think that that’s a topic I would like to discuss at the moment,” Moed said Wednesday.

“Either way, we are a strong country, we have a strong military, and I don’t think that it’s a big thing to understand that we will be able to continue to defend ourselves.”

Companies can still apply for permits to export military goods, but Ottawa won’t issue decisions for the time being, Joly’s office said.

Monday’s motion spoke to arms, but officials say it applies to all military goods and technology subject to Canadian permit rules, such as radars or cameras.

Before the motion passed Monday, Joly told the Commons that Canada had not approved any military export permits for goods headed toward Israel since Jan. 8.

That’s because of “our inability to confirm that human rights are being upheld and, of course, that our export regime requirements would be met,” she said.

Asked to respond to that concern, Moed said he can’t speak for how Canadian authorities assess these situations, but he argued Israel is upholding human rights.

“I don’t see that the situation on the ground has significantly changed,” Moed said of the January policy change.

“From our perspective, we’ve been upholding human rights from Day 1; we made very sure that we comply with all our international obligations at all times,” he said.

He said that includes trying to get “as much aid as possible” into Gaza and “to make sure that as many Palestinians (as possible) stay out of harm’s way, at all times.”

Ottawa and Washington have argued that Israel is not doing enough to limit casualties and to ensure enough aid is reaching Palestinian civilians.

Monday’s motion has caused friction within the Liberal caucus, with three MPs voting against it – including one who said he’s now reconsidering his future within the party.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 21, 2024.

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