Prime Minister Stephen Harper, left, meets with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in New York in September 2012.
TORONTO — Israel asked Canada not to cut aid to the Palestinians in retaliation for their bid for upgraded status at the United Nations, newly revealed documents show.
Postmedia News reported this week that briefing notes prepared for Canada’s minister of international development show that Israel urged Canada to continue its financial assistance to the Palestinian Authority in the face of the PA’s controversial bid for recognition at the United Nations last fall.
Canada was one of nine countries that voted against the move by the U.N. General Assembly to grant the Palestinians recognition as a de facto state.
Ahead of the vote, Canada’s staunchly pro-Israel Conservative government had warned of “consequences” should the Palestinians push ahead with the initiative, and there were rumblings that Canada might stop its assistance to the PA.
In 2008, Canada committed $300 million over five years for development projects within the Palestinian territories, of which at least $40 million was still waiting to be disbursed at the time of the General Assembly vote, according to Postmedia News.
“There have been increasing references in the past months during high-level bilateral meetings with the Israelis about the importance and value they place on Canada’s assistance to the Palestinian Authority, most notably in security/justice reform,” reads the briefing note, dated Nov. 2, 2012, and signed by Canadian International Development Agency President Margaret Biggs.
“The Israelis have noted the importance of Canada’s contribution to the relative stability achieved through extensive security co-operation between Israel and the Palestinian Authority.”
The document, obtained by Postmedia, is “heavily censored,” but said “the emergence of popular protests on the Palestinian street against the Palestinian Authority is worrying, and the Israelis have been imploring the international donor community to continue to support the Palestinian Authority.”
Even though Ottawa responded to the U.N. move by saying it would be reviewing its current and future aid commitments, it said later that it would fulfill its $300 million commitment, which expired at the end of March.
Last month, the Canadian government announced $25 million in new aid to Palestinians.
The next print edition of The CJN is Aug. 1.