Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says that Canada’s support for a ceasefire in the Israel-Hamas conflict doesn’t mean the country’s position on Israel has changed.
“We were among the first countries to call for humanitarian pauses, and we’re now calling, like much of the rest of the world, for work towards a ceasefire,” Trudeau said in a year-end interview airing in full on The West Block on Christmas Eve at 11 a.m. Eastern.
“But a ceasefire that can’t be one-sided, a ceasefire that continues to recognize that Israel has the right to defend itself, that Hamas must lay down its arms, release hostages, not use humans as shields, and understand that there is no future for Hamas in the governance of Gaza, particularly as we move towards a two-state solution where you have a peaceful, secure Israel alongside a peaceful, secure, viable Palestinian state without Hamas in charge.”
In his interview with Global News Ottawa bureau chief Mercedes Stephenson, Trudeau said that this has been Canada’s position since the beginning of the conflict.
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Earlier this month, Israel’s ambassador to Canada told Global News he was “deeply disappointed” in Canada joining calls for a ceasefire.
“Calling for a ceasefire in a situation that Israel is forced into a war actually does not strengthen us. And as I said, it emboldens the terrorists and gives them a sense that Israel is isolated politically,” Ambassador Iddo Moed said in an interview after a United Nations General Assembly vote on Dec. 12.
Over 20,000 people have been killed in Gaza since Oct. 7, according to the Hamas-controlled Palestinian Health Ministry and tens of thousands have been displaced by Israel’s bombing campaign and ground invasion of northern Gaza.
Roughly 1,200 people were killed in Israel in Hamas’ deadly attack, Israel says.
Trudeau defended Canada’s official support of a ceasefire, telling Stephenson that from the beginning that Canada called for international law to be followed.
“Let me be very clear. We haven’t changed our position from the very beginning. We talked about Israel’s right to defend itself in accordance with humanitarian law and the need to protect civilian lives,” Trudeau said.
“What we’ve seen over the past nine, 10 weeks is an evolving humanitarian catastrophe that requires us to continually shift in our approaches.”
A ceasefire is a more formal agreement than a humanitarian pause, which took place for at the end of November to allow aid trucks into Gaza while some hostages and prisoners were released by both sides.
Stephenson pressed Trudeau on whether working toward a ceasefire would legitimize Hamas, which is designated as a terrorist organization in Canada.
Trudeau replied that Hamas broke the ceasefire that already existed with its Oct. 7 attacks.
“There was a ceasefire that Hamas broke on Oct. 7. There has been a ceasefire since 2021,” he said. “The only path towards peace is getting hostages released, getting humanitarian aid in and removing Hamas as the governing body of Gaza. That’s the only way forward. And those are the conditions we’re putting in towards a ceasefire.”
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