Canadian Jewish Political Affairs Committee
Ignatieff says Israel must be allowed to defend itself from Hamas attacks

Ignatieff says Israel must be allowed to defend itself from Hamas attacks

Thu Jan 8, 7:19 PM

By The Canadian Press

HALIFAX, N.S. – Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff says Israel is justified in taking military action to defend itself against attacks by Hamas from the Gaza Strip.

"Canada has to support the right of a democratic country to defend itself," he told reporters in Halifax on Thursday after speaking to a forum of business leaders on the economy.

"Israel has been attacked from Gaza, not just last year, but for almost 10 years. They evacuated from Gaza so there is no occupation in Gaza."

Earlier this week, Canada condemned Palestinian fighters for endangering the lives of civilians in the Gaza Strip.

Peter Kent, the newly minted minister of state for Foreign Affairs, blamed the Palestinians’ duly elected government in Gaza for compromising the safety and welfare of its own civilians.

"The position of the government of Canada is that Hamas bears the burden of responsibility for the deepening humanitarian tragedy," Kent said.

"Until they commit to a permanent ceasefire – a truly permanent ceasefire, a durable ceasefire – and don’t use it as a break to re-arm and resume rocketing, the fighting will go on."

Ignatieff also said Hamas shoulders the blame.

"Hamas is a terrorist organization and Canada can’t touch Hamas with a 10-foot pole," he said. "Hamas is to blame for organizing and instigating these rocket attacks and then for sheltering among civilian populations."

Ignatieff said Canada must do whatever it can to get humanitarian and medical relief into Gaza when there is a ceasefire, but rocket attacks on Israel by Hamas must stop first.

Canada should also continue to work towards a lasting solution to the conflict, he said.

"Ultimately this thing has to end with an Israel that is recognized, is safe and secure . . . and living side-by-side in peace with a Palestinian state," Ignatieff said.