Mélanie Joly met with her Middle Eastern counterparts to discuss the war in Gaza

A group of foreign ministers from the Palestinian Authority, Saudi Arabia and Turkey were in Ottawa on Saturday for a discreetly planned meeting with Foreign Minister Mélanie Joly about attempts to put end to the war between Israel and Hamas.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau also joined the talks, held to see how countries like Canada can contribute to efforts to secure peace for Palestinians and Israelis, after Hamas militants launched a deadly rampage in Israel on October 7.

“The Prime Minister reiterated his condemnation of Hamas and its brutal attacks against Israel,” Mr. Trudeau’s office said on Saturday evening.

“He stressed that Hamas does not represent the Palestinian people or their legitimate aspirations. He also called for the immediate release of the rest of the hostages and insisted on the need to guarantee foreign nationals the possibility of leaving Gaza in complete safety,” it was added.

The delegation, called the Extraordinary Arab-Islamic Summit, normally includes Jordan, but Minister Joly’s office said its minister had to take care of another file.

The group does not consist of a joint peace project with Israel. He argues that his leaders aim to speak on behalf of Arab and Muslim people, who are grappling with the consequences of Israeli bombing of Gaza in response to the Hamas surprise attack.

It was the first visit by the Saudi foreign minister to Canada since diplomatic relations cooled between the two countries in 2018, when Riyadh recalled its ambassador from Ottawa and expelled Canada’s envoy.

M’s officeme Joly said the ministers discussed political pathways leading to comprehensive and lasting peace, with an emphasis on “self-determination, human rights and security” for Palestinians and Israelis.

They also discussed the need to allow more humanitarian aid to enter the Palestinian territory.

Many meetings

The delegation was in Ottawa after traveling to Washington. The group of ministers had also previously met in the capitals of China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom and the United States, as well as Spain.

In recent weeks, Mr. Trudeau has reiterated that Israel has the right to defend itself, while asserting that acts such as “the killing of women, children and babies” in Gaza undermine the possibility of a solution. to two states, in which Israelis and Palestinians could live in peace alongside each other.

That would follow a 1993 plan known as the Oslo Accords, approved by Israel and the Palestinian Authority, which governs the West Bank but not Gaza. Hamas did not support the agreement.

The Canadian government says Hamas must release its hostages and all foreigners must be allowed to leave the Gaza Strip, although Global Affairs Canada has stopped publishing the number of Canadians the organization says are still there. in the besieged territory.

Around 240 people were taken hostage during Hamas’s attack on Israel, and it is estimated that the militants are still holding more than 130 people, including a Canadian woman.

Israel and Hamas negotiated the release of 110 hostages captured in Israel in exchange for Palestinian prisoners during a week-long truce. Both camps blame each other for the resumption of hostilities.

No ceasefire yet

The ministerial committee visiting Canada stressed the need to immediately end the “military escalation” in Gaza and advance the political process with the aim of lasting peace.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said Gaza was at “a breaking point” and the humanitarian support system was at risk of total collapse.

Mr. Guterres used rare power this week to call for a ceasefire, a move that the United States vetoed in the Security Council. Israel has argued that an immediate ceasefire would only help Hamas prepare for more violent attacks, and says its priority is to suppress the group’s ability to inflict significant violence against Israelis.

The Associated Press reported Saturday that Israeli warplanes struck parts of the Gaza Strip that include some of the increasingly small plots of land where Israeli officials have asked Palestinians to gather, in southern Gaza. territory. The Palestinians therefore took refuge on a narrow desert coastal strip.

Mme Joly said negotiations between Israel and Hamas were necessary to end the conflict, although Canada did not follow some European countries in calling for an immediate ceasefire.

The Palestinian Authority is the internationally recognized body that speaks on behalf of the Palestinians, including in negotiations aimed at a two-state solution. The group controls the West Bank, but not Gaza, which has been under Hamas control since 2007.

Canada has no relationship with Hamas, which it has considered a terrorist organization since 2002, and therefore cannot negotiate with this group.

In May, Canada and Saudi Arabia agreed to reinstate their ambassadors in their respective capitals, after a 2018 row sparked by Canada’s vocal condemnation of the kingdom’s human rights record.

That year, Canada asked Saudi Arabia to release detained women’s rights and democracy activists. Riyadh responded by recalling its ambassador and freezing new trade with Canada.

With information from the Associated Press

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