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October 23, 2014 / 29 Tishri, 5775
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘john baird’

Canada Says One Thing And Publishes Another on Israel, Lawyers Say

Wednesday, January 15th, 2014

Former Israeli ambassador to Canada Alan Baker and prominent Toronto lawyers have condemned an apparent discrepancy between Ottawa’s fervid public support for Israel and official policy.

Baker, who served as Israel’s ambassador to Canada from 2004 to 2008, and six Toronto lawyers, have written to Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird demanding the Foreign Affairs Department website be changed “to align it with statements and policies publicly expressed by the Prime Minister, yourself and other government representatives,” the National Post newspaper reported.

The complaint comes on the eve of a high-profile visit by Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper next week.

The attorneys are particularly upset that the website refers to Judea and Samaria, eastern Jerusalem and the Golan Heights as “occupied territories” and declares the construction of Jewish communities and parts of the separation barrier inside those areas as illegal.

“Parts of this policy statement appear to run counter to the Canadian expressions of support for Israel and its positions,” the group wrote, “as well as against specific statements repeatedly made by Prime Minister Harper and Foreign Minister Baird.”

Information on the Foreign Affairs website reflects long-standing Canadian policy, which comports with the widely accepted international view that the West Bank, eastern Jerusalem and the Golan Heights are occupied territory because they were restored to Israel in the Six-Day War in 1967.

In response, Baird’s spokesman, Rick Roth, said Harper and his Conservative government “have articulated Canada’s policy on Israel and the Middle East at great length since 2006.

“Israel has no greater friend in the world than Canada,” Roth told the Post, “and it is through our actions, not just words, that this rings true.”

Canada Wants Richard Falk Ousted for ‘Palestinian Holocaust’ Comment

Sunday, December 22nd, 2013

Canada has called for the removal of a top U.N. official who accused Israel of having “genocidal intentions” against Palestinians.

Ottawa “completely rejects and condemns” the “appalling” remarks made by Richard Falk, U.N. Special Rapporteur for the Palestinian Territories, Canadian Foreign Minister John Baird said in a statement.

Canada has previously called for Falk to be fired “for his numerous outrageous and anti-Semitic statements,” Baird said, “and these [latest] comments underscore once more the complete and total absurdity of his service as a UN Special Rapporteur.”

Baird again called on the U.N. Human Rights Council “to remove Falk from his position immediately.”

In a Dec. 15 interview on Russia’s English television news channel RT, Falk was asked about a past article he had written in which he said that Israel was “slouching toward nothing less than a Palestinian holocaust.”

Falk told RT, “When you target a group, an ethnic group and inflict this kind of punishment upon them, you are in effect nurturing a kind of criminal intention that is genocidal.”

Baird said the comments not only “undermine the fundamental values of the United Nations, they also belittle the terrible genocides that have tragically taken place throughout history and around the world.”

Israel’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor also attacked Falk’s statements, The Jerusalem Post reported.

“This man has already branded himself as the radical version of extremism,” Palmor said.

Canadian Ministerial Visit to Jerusalem: A Geneva Convention Lesson

Wednesday, April 17th, 2013

Oh, the irony! Canada’s foreign minister, John Baird, has been lambasted for meeting with an Israeli government official in eastern Jerusalem – but barely anything has been said about the minister with whom he met: None other than Justice Minister Tzipi Livny, possibly best known for her willingness to divide Jerusalem in a final settlement with the Palestinian Authority.

As noted here in the past, Livni basically lost her chance to be prime minister because of her stance on Jerusalem. In late 2008, after she rose to the helm of the Kadima Party, Kadima won the national election and Livni was handed the chance to form the government. However, in part because of her willingness to grant Arab control to parts of Yerushalayim, she was unable to sway the Shas Party to join her coalition and Benjamin Netanyahu became prime minister instead.

Earlier that year, then-Foreign Minister Livni led negotiations with the PA – and promised PA chief Mahmoud Abbas that Israel would cede the entire Atarot airport complex in northern Yerushalayim. She has repeatedly stated that though she knows the entire Land of Israel is ours, she believes there will be peace only if Israel agrees to split Yerushalayim.

Others believe, of course, that statements of that type actually keep peace from arriving, for they encourage the Arab parties to maintain their intransigence.

Rather than ask why Minister Baird met with Minister Livny in the eastern Jerusalem office, why not ask why Minister Livny agreed to meet there with Minister Baird? She certainly knew the fallout that would result, placing her in the same corner as the Land of Israel loyalists with whom she started her career (her father was an Etzel officer in 1948, along with Menachem Begin, and she herself was a longtime Likud member and MK). She has not commented on the matter on her Facebook page or in any other public forum; she would likely prefer that the matter be forgotten.

In any event, John Baird has once again been shown to be true-blue with Israel. He also toured an IDF outpost in the Golan Heights on his recent trip, and in the past has visited the Old City of Jerusalem with an Israeli escort. Both the Golan and eastern Jerusalem are considered hot spots that many Western political officials make sure not to visit so as not to be viewed as recognizing Israeli control there.

Minister Baird deflected all criticism of these visits, however, and especially the most recent one in the Justice Ministry. He said they are “irrelevant” to the larger discussion of Middle East peace.

“I’m just not interested in getting into the semantic argument about whether [if] you have a meeting with one person on one side of the street it’s OK, and [if] you have a meeting on the other side of street it’s not,” Baird said.

Israel’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor also defended the meeting. “There should be nothing unusual about meeting Israel’s justice minister in [eastern] Jerusalem,” he said. “What is strange is that this is the exception.”

Though Canada’s embassy in Israel is not in Jerusalem but rather in Tel Aviv, and though Minister Baird emphasized that he supports the PLO’s bid for statehood, Canada is a very strong friend of Israel – possibly its best in the world.

“The great struggle of our generation is the struggle against terrorism,” Baird told an Israeli TV station last week, “and far too often, the Jewish people, Israel, has been on the front lines of that struggle. We want to work with Israel to see a lasting peace in this region.” He also related that he had urged Abbas to agree to resume talks with Israel without preconditions, but to no avail.

Canada and Israel have strong, multidimensional bilateral relations that have only intensified in recent years. The relationship has been marked by increased cooperation in public security, defense, trade and investment, with increasing numbers of ministerial visits.

“Israel appreciates Canada’s moral stand on a range of issues,” said Prime Minister’s Office spokesman Mark Regev, “and we appreciate Canada’s friendship.”

The PA did not let Canada or Minister Baird off lightly for his visit in eastern Jerusalem. Chief PLO negotiator Saeb Erekat sent him a sharp official letter of complaint, alleging that he had violated international law by “knowingly aiding another state in the perpetration of a crime.” The referred-to “crime,” based on the 1949 Fourth Geneva Convention, is that of attempting to annex what Erekat called “our capital,” and of transferring civilian population to occupied areas.

However, many legal scholars agree that Israel’s policy in Judea, Samaria and Jerusalem in no way violates the Geneva Convention.

Eli E. Hertz – a member of our International Keep Jerusalem Council and president of Myths and Facts, Inc., which researches and publishes important topical matters regarding global U.S. interests – has written on this topic extensively. He explains that when the Convention refers to “occupied territory,” it has the Nazi occupation of Europe in mind, and that there is no legal basis for using the term in connection with the Israeli-Arab conflict.

Hertz quotes Professor Julius Stone, a leading authority on the Law of Nations, as categorically rejecting use of the term “occupied territory” to describe Judea, Samaria and eastern Jerusalem. This, for the following reasons:

● The relevant clause, relating to the invasion of sovereign states, is inapplicable, because Judea and Samaria (Yesha) did not belong to any other state. Israel did not capture Yesha from its legal sovereign, but rather from Jordan, whose rule there was recognized by only two countries: Great Britain and Pakistan. Even the Arab League did not approve of Jordan’s “annexation” of these areas.

● The relevant article in the Convention was formulated in light of the Holocaust, seeking to prevent genocide – which is not a fear in the present situation.

● Settlement of Jews in Judea and Samaria is voluntary, does not displace local inhabitants, and is associated with a dramatic improvement in the economic situation of the [local Arab] inhabitants since 1967.

As such, Israel is not in violation of international law, and Minister Baird took the proper moral stance in recognizing that Israel, and not any Arab entity, has the most valid claim – if not the only one – to the Holy City, Yerushalayim.

To help spread the message that Jerusalem is Jewish, KeepJerusalem.org invites you to participate in our eastern and northern Jerusalem bus tours. For information, e-mail tours@keepjerusalem.org or visit our website at www.keepjerusalem.org.

VP Biden Confirmed for AIPAC Speech as Iran Nukes Heat Up

Wednesday, February 27th, 2013

Vice President Joe Biden will speak next Monday to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, just as Iran’s nuclear program is taking center stage once again, with rumors that it is closer than ever to producing a nuclear weapon.

Israel has been insisting that Iran’s nuclear program poses an existential threat which must be stopped by any means available, including a military strike. Biden will undoubtedly express the U.S. most current policy regarding this threat.

The Obama administration has expressed its preference for a diplomatic solution, but also committed to military intervention should all the other means fail.

President Barack Obama, who addressed group last year, will visit Israel later this month and will, therefore, skip the AIPAC meeting this year.

The annual AIPAC Policy Conference is the largest gathering of the pro-Israel movement. Thousands of participants come from all 50 states to take part in “three of the most important days affecting Israel’s future,” as the organization’s website puts it.

The 2013 conference will be held March 3-5, in Washington, D.C. AIPAC has published the names of the speakers who will appear at its podium next week, with the following VIPs topping the list:

The Honorable Joe Biden

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu

Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak,

Canadian Foreign Minister John Baird

House of Representatives Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA)

Senate Republican Whip John Cornyn (R-TX)

House of Representatives Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer (D-MD)

Senate Armed Services Committee Member John McCain (R-AZ)

Senate Armed Services Committee Member Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY)

Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Robert Menendez (D-NJ)

Congressional Black Caucus Chairwoman Marcia Fudge (D-OH)

Ambassador Dennis Ross

Elliott Abrams

Canada Tells Iranian Diplomats to Take a Hike, Israel Cheers on

Saturday, September 8th, 2012

Canada suspended diplomatic relations with Iran, closing down its embassy in Iran and giving Iranian diplomats in Canada five days to leave its soil, Canadian Foreign Minister John Baird announced Friday.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu quickly welcomed the decision, calling on the rest of the world to follow suit while, predictably, Iran denounced it.

Speaking in Vladivostok, Russia, Baird summed up the reasons for the decision saying that the Canadian government views “the Government of Iran as the most significant threat to global peace and security in the world today.”

Baird went on to list a litany of actions by the Iranian government, from providing military assistance to the regime of Bashir Assad in Syria, “refus[ing] to comply with UN resolutions pertaining to its nuclear program,” threatening Israel’s existence, violating human rights and supporting terrorism.

Baird also said that Iran “has shown blatant disregard for the Vienna Convention and its guarantee of protection for diplomatic personnel” and therefore “Canada can no longer maintain a diplomatic presence in Iran” due to safety reasons.

Elaborating to reporters, Baird referred to the attack on the British Embassy in Tehran last November, the New York Times reported.

That same day, Baird and Canadian Minister of Public Safety Vic Toews also announced that Canada has listed both Iran and Syria as state sponsors of terrorism. That decision will allow victims of terror to sue both countries under Canada’s Justice for Victims of Terror Act.

Later in the day, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu congratulated Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper for taking “a bold measure which displays leadership and sends a clear message to Iran and the entire world.”

Netanyahu said the decision was particularly important in light of the “anti-Semitism and hatred” displayed at the conference of the Non-Aligned Movement in Tehran, which was attended by 120 countries and U.N. General Secretary Ban Ki Moon.

Netanyahu called on the international community to follow Canada’s example and reiterated his call on the world to set “clear red lines for Iran.”

Meanwhile, an Iranian foreign ministry spokeperson, Ramin Mehmanparast, condemned Canada decision, saying it was one of Canada’s “extremist policies in the field of foreign policy” and that it was “in fact, the pursuit of Zionist and British dictated policies,” the Tehran Times reported.

The Canadian government, led by Stephen Harper and Canada’s Conservative Party, has shown support for Israel on a number of instances as of late.

In November 2010, Harper said Canada was “morally obligated to take a stand” for Israel, adding that “as long as I am Prime Minister . . . Canada will take that stand, whatever the cost.”

In May this year, Baird spoke in Washington D.C. about the importance of defending Israel, comparing Iran to the Nazi threat of World War II, and visited Israel only a few weeks ago in August.

Canada also stood with Israel in opposing the Palestinian Authority’s bid for U.N. recognition as an independent state in 2011.

Canadian Foreign Minister: ‘We’re Israel’s Best Friend’

Saturday, May 5th, 2012

At the end of a week in which the United Church of Canada, that country’s largest Protestant denomination called for a boycott of goods produced in “illegal” Israeli settlements, including East Jerusalem, Canadian Foreign Minister John Baird declared that “Israel has no greater friend in the world today than Canada.”

The foreign minister was addressing the American Jewish Committee World Leaders Plenary, attended by an audience of more than 1,500, including many ambassadors in Washington, D.C. The foreign ministers of Cyprus and Germany also spoke at that Global Forum session.

“Our strong support for Israel is not about politics at home, and certainly not about winning popularity contests at the United Nations. Canada certainly has the scars to show for it,” Baird said. “It’s about values.”

Canada’s pro-Israel position, he said, was a matter of principle, based on the values of “freedom, democracy, human rights and the rule of law” that Canada shares with Israel and the U.S.

“At the UN and elsewhere, we make it clear that Israel’s right to exist is non-negotiable. We vote against one-sided and unfair resolutions,” he said.

Canada has not always been so friendly to Israel, said Baird, who recalled two incidents in his own career when his suggestions to speak up for the Jewish state were rebuffed as naive and politically unrealistic.

“That is no longer how Canada operates,” he declared, “Not under this Foreign Minister. And not under this Prime Minister.” Baird’s speech was interrupted by frequent applause.

The current Canadian government “rejects the concept of moral relativism in international relations,” said Baird, adding that in Canada’s view “liberal democracies and international terrorist groups are not equal.”

Baird remarked that over the decades Canada has “paid a high toll for the principles that guide us” in fighting against hatred and intolerance, and in defense of freedom, democracy and dignity in two world wars and other conflicts around the world.

“In Afghanistan, we have invested billions of dollars and sacrificed more than 150 lives to ensure that country never again becomes a haven for terrorism,” said Baird.

Baird also expressed his country’s commitment to human rights, specifically denouncing Iran for its persecution of women, Christians and Baha’i; China for driving Christianity underground; and Egypt for its treatment of Coptic Christians.

And he pointed out that AJC, similarly, “does important advocacy work” not just for Jews but supports “dignity and respect for all peoples.”

The Foreign Minister also stressed the importance of economic prosperity for areas of the world that are beset with unrest and violence. He described his government’s success in providing “jobs, growth, and long-term prosperity.”

Noting that Canada has the third largest oil reserves in the world, Baird spoke of the potential benefits to his country and the U.S. of the Keystone XL pipeline project, which AJC strongly supports.

Incidentally, the United Church of Canada report will be considered by the Church’s General Council, which meets in Ottawa in August. Until then, the report is not yet official Church policy.

Canada Supports Peace Talks Without Preconditions

Tuesday, January 31st, 2012

John Baird, the Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister, gave a speech Monday supporting the Israeli government’s call for Palestinians to return to negotiations without preconditions.

“By resisting temptations to apply preconditions to talks and by avoiding measures that would seek to prejudge the outcome of the talks, the Palestinian leadership could immediately take steps toward a more measured, stable transition to statehood,” Baird was quoted as saying.

Baird also said he was “proud” to watch Netanyahu’s speech at the United Nations General Assembly last September. “One line in particular that resonated with me was the call to ’stop negotiating about the negotiations.’ “

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/canada-supports-peace-talks-without-preconditions/2012/01/31/

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