Jagmeet Singh calls for arms embargo against Israel

Jagmeet Singh
Photo via NDP

Federal NDP leader Jagmeet Singh has called on the government to block arms sales to Israel amid escalating violence in the Middle East.

Singh accused the Liberal government of “arming one side of the conflict” by allowing military exports to Israel. The policy “is undermining the peace process and supporting illegal occupation,” he said in the House of Commons May 12.

Singh was echoing a new NDP policy passed at the party’s convention last month. A resolution approved by 80 percent of delegates charged that Canada and Israel “trade millions in arms facilitating an illegal occupation,” and called for an arms embargo against Israel “until Palestinian rights are upheld.”

The NDP leader asked Prime Minister Justin Trudeau whether the government would “commit to stopping the sale of arms to Israel while they are violating international human rights.”

Trudeau said Canada is “following the situation with grave concern. We call on all parties to end the violence, de-escalate tensions, protect civilians and uphold international law. Rocket attacks against Israel are completely unacceptable and Canada supports Israel’s right to assure its own security. Violence at Al-Aqsa is also unacceptable. Places of worship are for people to gather peacefully and should never be sites of violence. We’re also gravely concerned by continued expansion of settlements and evictions. Canada supports the two-state solution and we urge all parties to renew their commitment to peace and security.”

Government data show Canada exported $13.7 million worth of military goods and technology to Israel in 2019, or 0.4 percent of total arms exports.

Saudi Arabia was the largest non-U.S. export destination, receiving approximately $2.8 billion in Canadian military exports, and accounting for about 76 percent of the total value of non-U.S. military exports in 2019.

In 2019, Canada shipped weapons to 82 countries, down from 89 in 2018, according to a study by Project Ploughshares. The top three recipients were Saudi Arabia, Belgium ($151.6 million), and Turkey ($151.4 million).

Israel was not on the list of countries Canada considered “lower-risk” when it comes to arms sales.