Feds silent after Israel announces it will build on disputed land

A Star of David decorates a lamp post in the West Bank Jewish settlement of Maale Adumim, near Jerusalem December 2, 2012.

Credits: REUTERS/Baz Ratner


OTTAWA - Israel's decision to punish Palestinians by building settlements on disputed land barely raised a peep from the Canadian government Monday.

While the government was considering what sort of retaliatory action - including cutting funding - it would take after the United Nations granted the Palestinian Authority non-member observer status Thursday,

Israel was rebuked by other allies for its response.

Canada was one of nine countries, including the United States, to oppose the resolution, saying a peace accord should have been negotiated before the Palestinian Authority sought non-member observer status at the UN.

Israel responded by announcing a blueprint to construct 3,000 houses in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, and withholding $100 million in taxes it collects on behalf of the Palestinian Authority to pay some outstanding Palestinian bills.

Several countries including Britain, Denmark, France, Spain and Sweden summoned Israeli ambassadors to reconsider the settlements.

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton called the move a setback to peace, while UN chief Ban Ki-moon said it was an "almost fatal blow" to a two-state solution.

Canadian officials referred journalists to Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird's speech at the UN when he said, "Canada has long opposed unilateral actions by either side as these are unhelpful."

When asked for a response in light of Israel's decision, spokesman Rick Roth said, "Unilateral actions on either side do not advance the peace process."

NDP Leader Thomas Mulcair said Israel's actions contravene the Geneva Convention "and therefore should be discouraged because it's an impediment to peace."

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