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April 16, 2013

Globe and Mail

Why is Foreign Minister John Baird misrepresenting Canada’s policies on the Mideast?

Last week, Mr. Baird met with Israeli justice minister Tzipi Livni in East Jerusalem. The meeting was controversial because of its location. Israel captured East Jerusalem in the 1967 war and later annexed it. Canada, like most of our allies and the United Nations, has historically regarded that territory as occupied, rather than as formally part of Israel.

Any peace agreement between Israelis and Palestinians will have to address the city’s contested status. Partly for this reason, Canada has maintained a longstanding policy of not meeting with Israeli officials (or accepting Israeli government escorts) in the occupied territories, including East Jerusalem. These guidelines have reflected both Canada’s strong support of Israel and its commitment to international law and a just peace.

Why, then, did Mr. Baird later say that the location of his East Jerusalem meeting was “irrelevant”...

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Roland Paris
Graduate School of Public and International Affairs

University of Ottawa

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