The National Post’s Graeme Hamilton reports that Liberal leadership contender Michael Ignatieff accused Israel of committing "a war crime" during the recent Lebanon conflict. In August, Ignatieff said that he was "not losing sleep" over Israel’s bombing of Qana, a Lebanese village, in which 28 civilians reportedly died. But on Sunday Ignatieff told the French-language Radio-Canada program "Tout le monde en parle":
"I was a professor of human rights, and I am also a professor of the laws of war, and what happened in Qana was a war crime, and I should have said that. That’s clear."
Contacted for comment, Ignatieff’s director of communications back-pedalled vigorously:
"This isn’t a deliberation that Michael would make on his feet. There is no way that he would make a pronouncement on international law in this format, and that’s not what he’s driving at here. He meant that this was a tragedy of war, that this was a deplorable act in war, that this was a terrible consequence of war."
According to the Post, the Canada-Israel Committee had already been concerned about Ignatieff’s team. In August, Ignatieff’s Quebec organizer Denis Coderre joined a march at which participants carried the flag of Hezbollah, classified by Canada as a terrorist organization.
In August, Ignatieff’s fellow Liberal Borys Wrzesnewskyj resigned as foreign affairs critic after accusing Israel of "state terrorism" and suggesting Canada should talk to Hezbollah.
Meanwhile, Ignatieff’s condemnation of Israel drew support from Canadian Islamic Congress president Mohamed Elmasry, who in October 2004 said that all Israelis over 18 are legitimate targets for suicide bombers because they serve in the Israeli army.