Senior Fatah member Nabil Shaath_390.
(photo credit: Reuters)
Chief PLO negotiator Saeb Erekat sent a “strongly worded” letter to Canadian
Foreign Minister John Baird on Friday night in protest against his meeting in
east Jerusalem on Tuesday with Justice Minister Tzipi Livni.
letter, Erekat complained that the meeting had “the effect of attempting to
legitimize the illegal situation on the ground and may be deemed as aiding,
abetting or otherwise assisting illegal Israeli policies.”
international diplomats, including those from Canada, do not hold meetings with
Israeli officials in east Jerusalem, because they do not recognize Israel’s
annexation of the portions of the city located over the pre-1967
The Justice Ministry is located in east Jerusalem and on Tuesday
Baird visited Livni there, toward the end of his three-day visit to Israel and
the Palestinian territories. He also met with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu,
President Shimon Peres, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and PA
Prime Minister Salam Fayyad.
In his letter to Baird, Erekat said that
Canada’s actions are “tantamount to complicity in ongoing Israeli violations of
the international laws of war.
These violations are being [perpetrated]
not only against the state of Palestine and the Palestinian people, but against
the international community as a whole.”
Erekat’s letter warned Baird
that under international norms, “a state which knowingly assists another state
in the commission of an internationally wrongful act bears responsibility for
the violation.” Erekat claimed that Israeli attempts to “isolate” east Jerusalem
are in violation of international laws.
On Friday, Fatah’s Commissioner
for International Affairs Nabeel Shaath published an opinion piece in Canada’s
Globe and Mail in which he also attacked the east Jerusalem meeting and Canada’s
continued support of Israel at the United Nations.
Shaath wrote that “The
visit is a slap in the face to the Palestinian people, particularly Palestinians
living in east Jerusalem, who suffer from Israeli policies of colonial
settlement expansion.” He added that it was just the latest in a series of
“provocations” that Canada had taken against the Palestinians, including its
rejection of Palestinian statehood efforts at the United Nations.
actions, he said, “have placed Canada at odds with the international community
and have turned Canada into an obstacle, rather than a partner, for
When queried by The Jerusalem Post about the visit to Livni’s
office, Baird’s press secretary said, “Minister Baird wanted to get Minister
Livni’s view on the Middle East peace process, given her new responsibilities
and important role in the new cabinet.”
“As guests, we were pleased to
meet our hosts where it was most convenient for them,” the press secretary said.
“This doesn’t change our long-standing position that all final status issues
must be negotiated between the two parties.”