Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says Canada is considering sanctions against Israeli settlers accused of attacking Palestinians and Israeli peace activists in the West Bank.
The US State Department on Thursday imposed financial sanctions against Israelis living in illegal settlements. The US government said the individuals sanctioned were linked to “escalation of violence” against Palestinians.
After making an unrelated announcement in Waterloo, Ont., Prime Minister Trudeau told reporters on Friday that he was “considering sanctions against extremist settlers” and provided updates on missing Canadians in the Gaza Strip. No information was disclosed.
“Settler violence in the West Bank is completely unacceptable and jeopardizes peace (and) stability in the region and the path to an absolutely essential two-state solution.”
He was referring to Canada’s longstanding policy of defending a Palestinian state alongside Israel.
The U.S. penalties announced Thursday are aimed at stopping the four from using the U.S. financial system and prohibiting U.S. citizens from doing business with them. Washington said it may list more settlers.
Last December, Canada was among 14 countries that condemned “extremist settlers terrorizing Palestinian society.”
Attacks intensified during the Israel-Hamas war. Palestinian authorities say some Palestinians have been killed, and rights groups say settlers have torched cars and attacked several small Bedouin communities, forcing them to flee.
“Israel, as an occupying power, must protect Palestinian civilians in the West Bank,” said a Dec. 15 statement from 14 countries.
Palestinian advocacy groups, including Canadians for Justice and Peace in the Middle East, are calling on Canada to impose sanctions not only on the settlers but also on government officials who encourage them.
For example, Israel’s far-right Minister of National Security Itamar Ben Gvir said this week that the United States should not have sanctioned “heroic settlers” in the West Bank.
The group Justice for All Canada says Ottawa is using sanctions and diplomatic pressure to crack down on settler violence and extensive detention rules enacted by Israel during the war in both Gaza and the West Bank. He said it was necessary to use the
“The days of vague, lukewarm statements and half-hearted measures are over,” Ganiyat Sadiq, an activist with the group, said in Parliament House on Friday.
Prime Minister Trudeau did not provide an update on Friday on the case of Mansour Shouman, a Canadian living in Gaza who was documenting humanitarian work in the Gaza Strip during the war.
Sjoman’s foreign contacts say they lost contact about two weeks ago, and witnesses claim to have seen Israeli military officials take him away.
The Israeli embassy in Ottawa said Friday it was aware of the reports and was considering what information it could share about Schuman.
Prime Minister Trudeau did not say whether he had spoken to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu about the matter.
“All levels within government are fully involved in this. We are engaging with all partners, including the Israeli government,” he said.
“We are conducting follow-up investigations as necessary in a very proactive manner to determine what happened and how we can help this individual.”
Foreign Minister Mélanie Joly met with the Mansour family on Thursday, and her office said officials were in contact with Israeli officials and nongovernmental organizations in the region.
Showman previously worked as an oil and gas consultant in Calgary.
He was on the list of foreigners approved to leave Gaza on November 7, but chose to remain in Gaza when his family left, citing his obligation to document the war.
His wife and five children left that day for Abu Dhabi, where his mother lives.