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NDP motion on Palestinian statehood passes after major amendments

Minister of Foreign Affairs Melanie Joly speaks to reporters in the foyer of the House of Commons in Ottawa on March 1. (Justin Tang/The Canadian Press - image credit)
Minister of Foreign Affairs Melanie Joly speaks to reporters in the foyer of the House of Commons in Ottawa on March 1. (Justin Tang/The Canadian Press - image credit)

The House of Commons passed a softened New Democrat motion on Monday night that no longer calls for the federal government to officially recognize Palestinian statehood after last-minute amendments brought in by the governing Liberals.

Softening the motion's original language, one of the 14 amendments called for the government to work toward "the establishment of the State of Palestine as part of a negotiated two-state solution."

The vote on the non-binding motion — initially set to take place at about 7:30 p.m. ET — stirred confusion among MPs. Late in the evening, Liberals moved to amend the opposition motion by replacing clauses entailing recognition and alluding to genocide — points that the NDP emphasized and that angered some Jewish communities.

Other amendments include referring to Hamas as a "terrorist organization," affirming that Israel has a right to defend itself and demanding that Hamas release all hostages and lay down its arms.

The amended motion also calls for ceasing the further transfer of arms exports to Israel (instead of asking to suspend all sales of military equipment to Israel) and increasing efforts to stop the illegal trade of arms, including to Hamas.

Conservative MP Michelle Rempel Garner called the evening an "embarrassment" and that foreign policy can't be shaped on the fly with "an eleventh-hour" amendment process.

"This is such a serious issue and it's so important that Canada shows leadership and gets it right," Rempel Garner told CBC News ahead of the vote. "So what happened is very much the the exact opposite of that."

Due to what he called "massive changes," Conservative MP Andrew Scheer called on the Speaker to reconsider ruling them in order or "at the very least" defer the vote until tomorrow to give members the time to fully examine the motion and "absorb these massive changes.