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Monday, September 15, 2014

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Canadian PM Harper pressured PA to drop U.N. bid

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Prime Minister Stephen Harper

Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper personally intervened to pressure the Palestinian Authority to drop its bid for upgraded status at the United Nations.

While in New York to accept an award and attend the opening of a new session of the United Nations at the end of September, Harper had "a short,  brusque meeting with [Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud] Abbas," the Globe and Mail newspaper reported Monday.

"In a little room at the United Nations, Harper skipped most of the pleasantries in a 15-minute meeting, according to sources briefed on the session, and told Abbas he had come to deliver a message: If you keep doing what you're doing, he said - referring to the Palestinian bid for upgraded status - 'there will be consequences,'" the newspaper reported.

"It was just one part of the bare-knuckle approach Canada has taken toward the U.N. bid, though largely out of public view," according to the newspaper

The PA is set on Nov. 29 to ask the UN General Assembly to approve Palestinian status as a non-member observer state. Abbas was rebuffed in an attempt last year to have the 15-member U.N. Security Council recognize a Palestinian state.

A source told the Globe that Canada has warned the PA's envoys that their legation in Ottawa might be closed, and the Palestinian envoy,  Said Hamad, sent home.

In addition, Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird has told several people, including Palestinian representatives, that he would travel to New York personally to cast a vote against the U.N. bid, the Globe reported.

The more serious potential aspects of the "consequences" about which Harper warned have to do with money: Ottawa pledged $300 million in aid over five years to the PA starting in 2008, and that period is about to run out.

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