Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Friday that Canada does not accept South Africa's case at the International Court of Justice that Israel committed genocide in Gaza.
Israel rejected South Africa's allegations before the ICJ, the highest court of the United Nations. Pressed by reporters, Trudeau insisted that Canada is a strong supporter of the court.
But he added: “Our full support for the ICJ and its procedures does not mean that we support the premise of the case pursued by South Africa.”
The United States considers South Africa's case without merit. Canadian Foreign Minister Melanie Jolie later reiterated Trudeau's comments in a statement.
Members of Trudeau's ruling Liberal Party, which includes Jewish and Muslim MPs, have taken different positions on the Gaza campaign.
Trudeau has repeatedly said Israel has the right to defend itself after militants from the Hamas group that rules the Gaza Strip carried out a deadly rampage in Israel on Oct. 7.
But he has gradually changed his tone amid rising civilian deaths, saying last month that close friends of Israel were concerned the Gaza campaign was endangering the country's long-term security.
“Canada is deeply concerned about the scale of the humanitarian crisis in Gaza and the ongoing dangers to all Palestinian citizens,” Jolie said.
Canada's conservative opposition, which is leading in the polls, accused Trudeau of “sinful and hypocritical” hypocrisy over the issue.
“He sends some of his representatives to talk to the electorate to say they support Israel's genocide. Then he sends another group to say anti-Israel is genocide,” Conservative leader Pierre Poilievre told reporters in Winnipeg, Manitoba.
“Communicator. Entrepreneur. Introvert. Passionate problem solver. Organizer. Social media ninja.”