Canada recalls diplomats from Israel, West Bank

AP News
Posted: Nov 30, 2012 9:27 AM
Canada recalls diplomats from Israel, West Bank

TORONTO (AP) — Canada's foreign affairs minister said Friday he is reviewing the country's relationship with the Palestinian Authority and temporarily recalling senior diplomats from Israel, the West Bank and the United Nations missions in New York and Geneva to assess the implications of Thursday's U.N. General Assembly vote to recognize the Palestinians as a non-member observer state.

John Baird said in a statement he is deeply disappointed by the U.N. vote, in which Canada joined Israel, the United States and a few other countries in voting "no." He said the only way to peace in the Middle East is through negotiations, not what he called unilateral actions.

Recalling the diplomats will "inform Canada's response" to the vote, he said.

Baird, whose Conservative government is a staunch ally of Israel, travelled to New York to personally vote against it and gave a speech where he suggested Canada will take retaliatory measures against the Palestinians.

Baird didn't say what Canada would do, but a senior Canadian official said Canada has no intention at this point of cutting off relations or sending Palestinian diplomats home. The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly, said the government "will be thoughtful and deliberate in taking steps to express our displeasure at this unilateral action."

U.S. lawmakers have threatened to cut off aid if the Palestinians use their newfound status against Israel. That could be an option for Canada, which has provided about $300 million of aid to the Palestinians over the last five years.