Canada will consider “consequences” to the Palestinian Authority if it decides to use its newfound non-member observer state status at the United Nations to pursue actions against Israel at the International Criminal Court, Foreign Minister John Baird told told the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) conference in Washington, D.C., last week
Baird delivered Ottawa’s message on March 3 at the AIPAC conference during a question-and-answer period.
Speaking to the pro-Israel audience, Baird said while Canada remains committed to the establishment of a Palestinian state, it must come about by direct negotiations and not through unilateral PA actions at the UN or elsewhere.
“We were very clear from the outset that further actions, like we've seen at UNESCO, like we've seen at the United Nations, particularly at the International Criminal Court, will be ones which… will not go unnoticed and will have certainly consequences in the conduct over relations with the Palestinian authority,” he said.
“Palestine” was granted elevated status at the United Nations last November. Only Canada, the United States Israel, the Czech Republic, Marshall Islands, Micronesia, Nauru, Palau and Panama voted against the upgrade.
Canada’s three-year, $300-million economic aid package to the PA is scheduled to run out at the end of this month. The Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) administers $250 million of that amount, while the other $50 million comes from Foreign Affairs.
CIDA spokesperson Daniel Bezalel Richardsen told The CJN that the agency is reviewing its funding to the Palestinians as part of normal standard operating procedure.
“We are undertaking a normal review of our program with the PA based on outcomes achieved with taxpayer dollars, as we do with all of our programs,” he wrote in an email, quoting Minister for International Co-operation Julian Fantino, whose department runs the agency.
“Future commitments with the PA will be dependent on our ability to achieve meaningful results with taxpayer dollars and the commitment of the PA to prioritize the basic needs of the people.”
In response to Baird’s comments, Saeb Erekat, a senior PA official, said the Palestinians couldn’t understand Canada’s hostility toward them.
In a March 7 Xinhua News Agency report, Erekat condemned Canada, saying: “We do not know why Canada is showing all this hostility against us. Those who fear international courts must force Israel to stop its crimes,” he said.
The PA has said it plans to take Israel to the ICC over continued settlement building in the occupied territories.