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Dressed in a keffiyeh, Ghazal calls for the closure of the Quebec Office in Tel Aviv

Photo: Jacques Boissinot La Presse canadienne La députée Ruba Ghazal portait le foulard devenu symbole de la cause palestinienne lors de la période des questions au Salon bleu.

Dressed in a keffiyeh, this square of fabric that has become a symbol of the Palestinian cause, solidarity MP Ruba Ghazal once again asked the government on Wednesday to abandon opening a new diplomatic representation in Israel, given the conflict raging in the Middle East. -Orient.

“The International Criminal Court wants to issue arrest warrants against [Israeli Prime Minister] Benjamin Netanyahu for war crimes. At the same time, the Quebec government opened an office in Israel. […] What will our grandchildren remember from the sad episode of the opening of a Quebec office in Israel ?” asked Ms. Ghazal during question period.

“The Palestinians suffer from “an incurable disease called hope.” It is this hope that brings me back again today with my request: please, Mr. Prime Minister, close the Quebec Office in Israel,” she asked, quoting the Palestinian writer Mahmoud Darwich.

The Minister of International Relations, Martine Biron, being absent, her colleague Minister of the French Language answered the question at the Salon bleu. “The government of Quebec is wholeheartedly with the people who may suffer from war,” declared Jean-François Roberge, recalling that the government had supported a United Nations resolution on the delivery of humanitarian aid to Gaza and demanded an immediate ceasefire as well as the release of Israeli hostages. “But to link what is happening at the moment with Quebec's international relations, […] I think it is a dubious amalgam,” he added.

Recognition of the Palestinian State

In November, Minister Biron herself linked the postponement of the opening of the Quebec Office in Tel Aviv to the current conflict, saying he wanted to wait “for peace to return.” She now claims that “the decision to open an office in Tel Aviv is not linked to the government in place.”

Taking over from his colleague Ghazal, MP Guillaume Cliche-Rivard pointed out that Israel recalled its ambassadors to Spain, Norway and Ireland on Wednesday after the three countries decided to recognize the State of Palestine. “What message do we project when, on the contrary, we open ours and open a new Quebec Office ?” he asked. He criticized Quebec for “associating itself” with “people who are wanted by the International Criminal Court”.

Again here, Minister Roberge suggested to his colleague to “avoid confusion”. He recalled that “everyone” wants international law to be respected and civilians spared. “Quebec had planned for years […] to continue its expansion with offices in Quebec,” he also recalled. The Quebec Office in Tel Aviv had indeed been under study since 2017.

In the morning, Québec solidaire asked Quebec to take the lead and recognize the Palestinian state, like Spain, Norway and Ireland. The Quebec Liberal Party, for its part, reiterated “its support for a negotiated solution which includes the right for Israel to live in peace and security, as well as the right of Palestinians to self-determination and the creation of a state.” . The leader of the Parti Québécois, Paul St-Pierre Plamondon, recalled that his party “recognizes [the Palestinian state], because we want a two-state solution.”

Minister Biron's office said it had “always advocated for lasting peace in the region” and was “in favor of a two-state solution, at the most appropriate time.” “As such, we reiterate that Hamas, a terrorist group in control of Gaza, must capitulate, surrender its weapons and release all hostages. We also reiterate our demand for a ceasefire. Now, we want a solution that is negotiated between the parties, as urgently as possible,” wrote press secretary Catherine Boucher to Devoir.

The keffiyeh is prohibited in rooms at Queen's Park

The Ontario legislature, Queen’s Park, banned the wearing of keffiyehs in the chamber in April. “Clothing or other attire intended to make an explicit political statement” is not permitted, said the Speaker of the Ontario Legislative Assembly, Ted Arnott, in an email cited by Radio-Canada.< /p>

Coincidentally, Mr. Arnott was in the stands of the Salon Bleu on Wednesday, since a delegation of Ontario parliamentarians had been invited to the National Assembly.

Ms. Ghazal noticed his presence, and said she appreciated the fact that her keffiyeh had not caused an uproar. “I’m really happy that here, in Quebec, in the Quebec parliament, it didn’t make waves. […] It should inspire the Parliament of Ontario,” she said.

In Toronto, Ted Arnott issued a ruling in April attesting that wearing the keffiyeh constitutes a political statement. He recalled that Queen's Park “has established practice that MPs must not use any props or signs which are intended to express a political message or which are likely to cause disorder”, and that “this rule applies also to the clothing of deputies”.

“It can also be political, why not ?” MP Ghazal argued on Wednesday. “It’s cultural, political, heritage. It is also a symbol of the struggle for peace, for the rights of a people to self-determination,” she enumerated. As a reminder, former Liberal MP David Birnbaum already wore the kippah at the Salon Bleu, in 2018, to mark the International Day of Commemoration of the Victims of the Holocaust.

In the Ottawa Parliament, the wearing of the keffiyeh remains authorized. Federal Justice Minister Arif Virani believes it is “an important cultural symbol that should be welcomed in all Canadian institutions.” Wearing a keffiyeh is also permitted in the Knesset, the Israeli Parliament.

Quebec should not venture into Israel, believes the NDP

The leader of the New Democratic Party, Jagmeet Singh, criticized Wednesday the opening of a Quebec office in Israel, given the conflict raging in Gaza. “It is the decision of the Quebec government […] but, personally, I think that in the context of a war, particularly in a context of violation of human rights, of everything that is happening, it is not is not a good decision,” he told reporters. His party has called for recognition of a Palestinian state by Canada, an action taken by Spain, Ireland and Norway. The Prime Minister does not believe the fruit is ripe. “We are ready to recognize the State of Palestine at the right time, [and] not necessarily at the last stage of the process,” Justin Trudeau responded during question period.

Boris Proulx

Teilor Stone

By Teilor Stone

Teilor Stone has been a reporter on the news desk since 2013. Before that she wrote about young adolescence and family dynamics for Styles and was the legal affairs correspondent for the Metro desk. Before joining Thesaxon , Teilor Stone worked as a staff writer at the Village Voice and a freelancer for Newsday, The Wall Street Journal, GQ and Mirabella. To get in touch, contact me through my teilor@nizhtimes.com 1-800-268-7116