Canada to oppose Palestinian statehood bid at UN
Published Wednesday, November 28, 2012 4:03PM EST
Last Updated Wednesday, November 28, 2012 10:41PM EST
Prime Minister Stephen Harper said Canada will vote against the bid of the Palestinian Authority to raise its status at the United Nations.
While Harper said he favours a two-state solution in the Middle East, his government wants to see Israel and the Palestine Authority return to the bargaining table before supporting Palestine’s statehood.
Speaking in the House of Commons Wednesday, Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird said he’s disappointed with the actions of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, who plans to ask the UN General Assembly on Thursday to recognize Palestine in the West Bank, Gaza and east Jerusalem -- areas Israel captured in the 1967 Mideast war.
“It’s obvious that this will affect our relationship,” said Baird, who plans to travel to New York where he’ll speak on the issue at the UN. “This government makes no apologies for standing with the Jewish State. This government makes no apologies from standing with Israel at the UN.”
Canada will vote with the United States on Thursday against accepting Palestine as a non-member observer state. However, it’s expected that some two-thirds of the General Assembly’s 193 members will support the bid.
Currently the Palestinians hold observer status at the UN.
France, Spain, Norway, Denmark and Switzerland have pledged support while Germany said it would not support the initiative and Britain would only vote in favour if the Palestinians softened some of their language.
Baird said he encourages both parties to negotiate a lasting peace deal.
“We’re prepared to do anything we can to support that,” said Baird. “What we will not support is the unilateral action by the Palestinian Authority at the United Nations.”
Abbas has said UN recognition is not meant to replace negotiations with Israel, but to improve Palestinian leverage and secure the pre-1967 war frontiers as the baseline for future border talks.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has rejected the idea.
The NDP said Wednesday that the Conservatives were taking an “unbalanced” approach and should use the vote as an opportunity to restart negotiations between both sides.
“How is the government’s threatening approach helping to encourage moderates who want to pursue the path of politics rather than the path of violence,” said NDP MP Paul Dewar.
“We have the opportunity to advance the cause of peace. Canada has an obligation to help bring the two sides closer to an agreement,” said Dewar. “Cutting off diplomatic relations with the Palestinian Authority will undermine the cause of peace and cutting off aid will undermine security.”
With files from The Associated Press