MP Irwin Cotler says Hamas to blame for Gaza conflict

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The dome of a mosque, destroyed by Israeli strikes during the war, is seen in Khuzaa, east of Khan Younis, in the southern Gaza Strip on Aug. 11, 2014

Former federal justice minister Irwin Cotler says if people want to prevent further tragedies like the current conflict in Gaza, they need to ask some fundamental questions about the root causes of that conflict.

Speaking to a fundraising luncheon for Charlottetown MP Sean Casey on Tuesday, the Liberal critic for rights, freedoms and international justice placed the blame for this conflict squarely on the shoulders of Hamas.

Hamas, which has long been recognized as a terrorist organization by countries like Canada, Israel, the United States, the U.K. and the countries of the European Union, is committed to the destruction of Israel and the killing of Jews wherever they may be, Cotler said.

That commitment, he noted, is clearly set out in the Hamas charter.

He recounted that in 2005, Israel disengaged from Gaza, removing all its soldiers and its citizens, leaving behind some 3,000 greenhouses and other pieces of infrastructure that Palestinians could take advantage of and make use of.

But Hamas destroyed those greenhouses, brutalized the Palestinian people and ramped up its attacks on Israel instead of using those resources to help build a state.

Cotler said Hamas has fired 14,000 rockets into Israel since 2000, some 3,000 of them this year alone.

He said the real root cause of the troubles in Gaza is Hamas’s unwillingness to recognize Israel’s right to live in peace.

“Hamas is a uniquely evil expression of genocidal anti-Semitism.”

Cotler said there have now been eight ceasefires, every one of which has been broken by Hamas.

For there to be a comprehensive and enduring ceasefire, several things must happen, he indicated.

Included on that list is the demilitarization of Gaza so it cannot be used as a staging ground for attacks on Israel; the disbanding of Hamas’s terrorist militias; the dismantling of Hamas’s weapons infrastructure; and the recognition of Israel’s right to live in peace and security.

Cotler supports the right of peoples in the Middle East — Israelis and Palestinians alike — to live in peace and security, free from any threats or acts of force.

Organizations: Hamas, European Union

Geographic location: Israel, Gaza, Canada United States U.K. Middle East

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Recent comments

  • Zain Esseghaier
    August 14, 2014 - 14:58

    Mr. Cotler conveniently left a number of facts. For a full analysis of the situation, see Norman Finkelstein's talk at: As a summary: 1. The reason for the present war on Gaza is the formation of a Palestinian unity government that would include Hamas. Netanyahu was against it and demanded that the US and Europe reject it. They both refused. 2. The Palestinian unity government (including Hamas) accepted the US and EU terms: - Renunciation of violence. - Recognition of the State of Israel. - Recognition of all past agreements. 3. The killing of the three Israeli teenagers gave Netanyahu a pretext to attack Hamas first in the West Bank, knowing well that Hamas had nothing to do with it. The strategy was to hit Hamas so it reacts: Arrest of 700 Palestinians mainly Hamas supporters; ransacking and destruction of homes; and killing a number of Palestinians. It is at that point that Hamas reacted by launching the so-called rockets. According to Bernard Avishai (Where is the Kerry Plan for Peace: The New Yorker, April12, 2014): "The most serious obstacle is Israeli and ideological" as the Likud (Netanyahu's party) and its religious and ultra-rightists partners believe in a Greater Israel. The Kerry initiative, which was accepted by Palestinian Authority’s Abbas, basically calls for the annexation of the Israeli settlements and basically making the right of return of the Palestinians to their homeland null. Israel's position has been clear for many years: There will be no Palestinian state. What Netanyahu has done in the last few years is to kill the Oslo accord, and reject the creation of two states. Some people, including Mr. Cotler, seem to ignore that according to International Law, a people struggling for self-determination has the right to use armed force to achieve its end. Israel and its supporters claim that it has the right to defend itself. The issue is: Does Israel have the right to maintain occupation (for 47 years) and to crate illegal settlements on occupied land? Israel clearly has no intention to end its occupation. Its intent is to make the lives of Palestinians so miserable that they'd leave. If Mr. Cotler truly supports the right of people in the Middle East to live in peace, he would condemn the massacre of over 1900 Palestinians, 30% of whom are children according to UNICEF (see The Telegraph, August 2, 2014) with many civilians shot while fleeing according to Human Rights Watch, which is not known to be Palestinian friendly.

    • right
      August 14, 2014 - 17:21

      Because peaceful humanitarians use schools and hospitals as launching sites for missiles? What the heck is a "so called rocket"? Either it is a rocket or not. Your whole argument comes down to "Yeah? Well you're a poopy head!"

  • Observer
    August 14, 2014 - 13:30

    Malclom McKeil: Theocracy? You call Israel a theocracy? Better check a dictionary, buddy. Israel is a democracy, with an elected government that includes Jews and Arabs. It has an elected leader who is not a religious figure, an internationally recognized political structure, including multiple parties, and the laws of the country are not based on religious doctrine. You wanna' talk about conveniently leaving things out? How about the fact that Hamas' stated goal is the destruction of Israel as a state AND the murder of all Jews everywhere. What is Israel supposed to do? Lie down and wait for the genocide all over again? Open the borders in Gaza so that Hamas can import another 14000 rockets, all aimed into Israel? I have been to the Middle East more than once, and spent a lot of time there. I can tell you that Israel is a FAR safer and more democratic country than any other in the ME. I am not a Jew, yet I never felt threatened or harassed there. I cannot say the same for the other ME countries I visited. As for "apartied" (sic) - not so much. Apartheid would mean that there are different laws for Arabs and Jews in Israel. There are not - the law is the same throughout the country. However, the law in Gaza - such as it functions under Hamas - is different. But you don't really care to hear about that aspect, I think, 'cos it doesn't fit your argument. And lastly: "original" people? Jews have lived in Israel for 4000 years. Islam has been a religion for less than half of that. Oh, yes – one more thing. It’s Israel, not “Isreal”.

  • Malcolm McKeil
    August 14, 2014 - 12:08

    you have conviently left out so much here, the original people should be able to return to their homes for a start. If you unjustly lock up millions of people some of them are going to fight back, Isreal is a theocracy and an 'apartied state'. You know this to be true but the 1% is doing very well with the situation, thank you very much.

    • Garth Staples
      August 14, 2014 - 14:54

      And you know what you wrote is incorrect. Palestinians 'elected' Hamas reps and now must live with the results. Hamas is a terrorist organization who kills Palestinians.

    • Dear Garth
      August 14, 2014 - 18:20

      Israel is a terrorist state little garth. No surprise you would be a strong defender given your political partisanship and general ignorance. Guess what little garth. You are going to get passed over for PEI senator yet again even though you have been a devout Harper boot licker for the last 10 years.

  • Garth Staples
    August 14, 2014 - 11:01

    PM Harper made that observation years ago and did something about it. Where has Cotler been?