OTTAWA - The Liberal government is insisting that Hamas must surrender to Israel, after the armed militant group praised Canada for being one of the countries calling for a ceasefire in the Gaza Strip.

“Hamas cannot have any role in the future governance of Gaza or in the two-state solution,” Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Thursday at a news conference in Toronto.

He was referring to the eventual creation of a Palestinian state living in peace alongside Israel.

On Monday, Hamas released a video message on the platform Telegram, where one of its top officials, Ghazi Hamad, spoke about a joint statement that Trudeau and the prime ministers of Australia and New Zealand released last week on the Middle East.

That Dec. 12 statement came shortly before Canada voted in favour of a non-binding resolution at the United Nations that called for “an immediate humanitarian ceasefire” between Israel and Hamas - a major shift from Canada's long-standing policy at the international body.

In the English-language video, Hamad mentioned the statement from Canada, Australia and New Zealand after noting “growing calls by several Western governments to end the aggression on Gaza.” He said Hamas welcomed these moves “in the right direction” toward isolating Israel.

He left out the fact that the statement also condemned the Oct. 7 attacks against Israel by Hamas, which killed some 1,200 people, including hundreds of civilians, and 240 were taken hostage. His video message also did not mention the three prime ministers made demands of Hamas in any ceasefire.

“This cannot be one-sided. Hamas must release all hostages, stop using Palestinian civilians as human shields, and lay down its arms,” the Dec. 12 statement said. “There is no role for Hamas in the future governance of Gaza.”

The statement from Canada, Australia and New Zealand had also recognized that Israel has a right to exist and to defend itself, while respecting international humanitarian law. “The price of defeating Hamas cannot be the continuous suffering of all Palestinian civilians,” it said.

About 20,000 Palestinians have been killed since Israel launched its bombardment of Gaza in response to the Oct. 7 attacks, local authorities say, with while nearly 85 per cent of the 2.3 million people in the territory having been driven from their homes.

On Wednesday, the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs shared an excerpt of the video from Hamas on the platform X, formerly known as Twitter, calling it the result of a “failure to hold Hamas accountable.”

The organization, which had said last week it was “disgusted” by Canada's vote at the UN, added: “The Canadian-listed terrorist entity's praise for Canada is a reflection of the government's new position on the Israel-Hamas war.”

Within hours, Foreign Affairs Minister Melanie Joly released a statement on X, noting that the three-country statement had condemned Hamas's brazen attack on Israel.

“Our statement was clear: for a ceasefire to be sustainable, Hamas must release all hostages, stop using Palestinian civilians as human shields, and lay down its arms,” Joly wrote.

“They do not represent the legitimate aspirations of the Palestinian people.”

On Thursday, Trudeau did not elaborate on how he thinks there could be a situation created where Palestinians govern themselves without Hamas, which has controlled Gaza since 2007.

Trudeau instead reiterated Canada's condemnation of the group.

“Hamas was responsible for the cold-blooded execution of over 1,000 Israeli citizens on Oct. 7, and has committed to continuing those attacks long into the future,” Trudeau said.

“We need to build with a secure and free Israel alongside a secure and free Palestinian state,” he said. “That is the work we need to do and we are absolutely committed to it. And that's why we're calling for humanitarian pauses as quickly as possible and working urgently towards a ceasefire with international partners.”

Trudeau said talks with fellow countries in the G7, as well as those in the Middle East, are aimed at such an outcome.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 21, 2023.