takes diplomatic steps to strengthen relations with key allies

Canadian Foreign Minister Melanie Joly, currently on a diplomatic tour of the Middle East, posted on X, formerly Twitter, of her plight to uncover sexual assault allegations by Palestinian women on Tuesday.

“We believe Palestinian women. Allegations on sexual and gender-based violence against them must be investigated, and Palestinian women must be supported. Today, I announced in the West Bank that Canada will commit $1M to support this important work,” she wrote. 

The same day, the Palestinian Foreign Ministry invited the UN Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Sexual Violence in Conflict, Pramila Patten, to investigate “Israel’s well-documented sexual violence against Palestinian women, men, and children detainees and disappeared persons” in a press statement. There is limited data on this occurrence. 

Patten conducted an investigation and compiled a report on Hamas’s use of sexual violence against Israelis on October 7 and against the hostages in Gaza. 

In her visit to the West Bank, FM Joly toured Al Mazra’a al Qibilya in the central region of the West Bank, near Ramallah, “to hear from Palestinians about impacts of the expansion of Israeli settlements and the rise of extremist settler violence,” she posted on X. She met with Mayor Bassam Khatib and families in the region who were impacted by this occurrence.

She met with the Palestinian Foreign Affairs Minister, Dr. al-Malki, and discussed “the need for increased humanitarian aid to Gaza, a sustainable ceasefire, with the release of hostages, and political dialogue towards a two-state solution, with the creation of a Palestinian state,” she stated on X in a separate post. 

Her visit to the West Bank was part of a larger diplomatic mission that included meetings in Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and the United Arab Emirates between March 6 and 9. Her tour to Israel and the West Bank began Monday and ended Wednesday, concluding her Middle East tour.

The purpose of her tour was to meet with regional foreign ministers and stakeholders to exchange views on the war in Gaza, according to the Canadian Foreign Ministry. 

Visit to Israel

While in Israel, she visited Kibbutz Kfar Aza and heard from survivors of the massacre there. She met with Foreign Minister Israel Katz, during which FM Joly reiterated Israel’s right to exist, condemned the Hamas October 7 massacre against Israel, and called to release all the hostages, according to the Canadian Foreign Ministry. During her visit, she met with families of those held hostage in Gaza to hear their stories. 

FM Joly expressed concern over reports of sexual violence committed by Hamas against Israeli hostages, including the UN report, and expressed support for investigations into these acts. 

Additionally, she called for an increase in humanitarian aid entering Gaza by any means possible in light of the growing humanitarian crisis in the Strip. 

On Sunday, Canada made the decision to reinstate its funding to UNRWA. The Palestinian Foreign Ministry posted on X a picture of FM Joly and FM Dr. al-Malki thanking FM Joly for making that decision.