Canada stands with Israel as Palestinians attempt 'shortcut' to UN status

Minister of Foreign Affairs John Baird waits to speak during Question Period in the House of Commons, Nov. 28, 2012.

Credits: REUTERS/Blair Gable


OTTAWA - Prime Minister Stephen Harper said his government won't support any "shortcuts" to a Mideast peace agreement.

Speaking Wednesday on President Mahmoud Abbas's United Nations bid to seek semi-statehood for Palestine, Harper urged the Palestinians and Israel to accomplish the goal of reaching a peace agreement at the negotiating table and not through unilateral action.

That position left the NDP accusing the Tories of creating a rift with Canada's moderate allies in the region.

"We are concerned the Conservatives have taken an unbalanced approach and started to issue threats against moderates rather than working with them to find a consensus," NDP foreign affairs critic Paul Dewar said.

But Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird - who is heading to the UN to personally cast Canada's vote and speak on the issue - made no apologies for standing by Israel.

"We are tremendously disappointed with the Palestinian Authority and the actions that they're taking," Baird said. "It is obvious that this will affect our relationship."

The UN will vote Thursday on Abbas's request to upgrade the Palestinians' status from "observer entity" to "observer state," which would provide access to the International Criminal Court and other international bodies.

Canada, the US, Germany and Israel all oppose the bid, which has the support of France, Switzerland, Denmark, Austria, Spain and many developing nations in the wake of an eight-day battle between Israel and the Islamist Hamas movement.

The UK offered its tentative support for the bid on condition Abbas commit to relaunching stalled peace talks and not apply to join the International Criminal Court.

- with files from Reuters

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