Canadians urged to exercise caution in Middle East ahead of protests

Canadians urged to exercise caution in Middle East ahead of protests

Canadians urged to exercise caution in Middle East ahead of protests

OTTAWA — Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland added her voice to a chorus of global leaders appealing for calm in the Middle East on Wednesday in the wake of the Trump administration’s move to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

Canadians in the region were being urged to exercise caution around planned protests against the U.S. announcement, which included a process to relocate the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem from Tel Aviv, upending decades of the U.S. policy.

By recognizing Israel’s claim to Jerusalem, Trump is seen by the Palestinians as siding with Israel on the most sensitive issue in the conflict. The Palestinians want east Jerusalem — which Israel captured in 1967 — for their capital.

But Trump declared it was time for a new approach to Mideast peace after decades of failure. Calling Jerusalem Israel’s capital, he argued, was merely recognizing the obvious.

“We cannot solve our problems by making the same failed assumptions and repeating the same failed strategies of the past,” the president said.

Freeland had been briefed on the announcement in a call Monday with U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, sources told The Canadian Press. The two are together this week at NATO headquarters in Brussels, where Tillerson has been getting an earful from world leaders over Trump’s move.

Canada will keep its embassy in Tel Aviv and its policy that the status of Jerusalem depends on the outcome of peace talks, the same approach most countries have had in place for decades.

”We are strongly committed to the goal of a comprehensive, just and lasting peace in the Middle East, including the creation of a Palestinian state living side-by-side in peace and security with Israel,” Freeland said in a statement.

“We call for calm and continue to support the building of conditions necessary for the parties to find a solution.”

World leaders from the Pope to the Chinese government raised concerns Wednesday that Trump’s move would further escalate tensions in the region and threaten the ongoing peace process, as well as any potential for the U.S. to broker any kind of peace.

In Israel, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said his nation was “profoundly grateful” and Trump’s announcement was an “important step toward peace.”

However, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said that the U.S. shift “is a declaration of withdrawal from the role it has played in the peace process.”

New Democratic Party Leader Jagmeet Singh said the U.S. decision was counterproductive and Canada should speak up.

“It is something that needs to be pointed out as being divisive,” Singh said.

The Conservatives offered no comment, perhaps remembering their own political history.

Much like Trump’s decision was part of a campaign promise, in 1979, Progressive Conservative leader Joe Clark made a similar promise ahead of the federal campaign.

He reiterated it upon winning power, but after a significant outcry from business and community leaders, backed away from the idea.

Even former prime minister Stephen Harper, a staunch supporter of Israel, never proposed the idea, though his former foreign affairs minister courted some controversy when he met with an Israeli politician in east Jerusalem, which many diplomats refuse to do.

But that the proposal continues to have some political traction domestically was evident during the campaign to replace Harper, when contender Kellie Leitch proposed moving the embassy as part of her platform.

She wouldn’t comment Wednesday.

Groups who advocate on behalf of the Jewish community do feel the Liberals should follow Trump.

“Since the re-establishment of the modern State of Israel, Jerusalem has been the home to Israel’s democratically elected parliament, independent supreme court, and national government offices,” the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs said in a statement.

“We have always maintained that Canada should formally recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.”

Jerusalem

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Alberta is on pace to administer more than 300,000 COVID-19 vaccine doses per week, according to the provincial government. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Andrew Vaughan
One million COVID-19 vaccine doses administered in Alberta

Alberta hit a milestone in the fight against COVID-19 this week. As… Continue reading

(Government of Canada)
Liberal MP caught stark naked during House of Commons video conference

William Amos, in Quebec, appeared on the screens of his fellow members of Parliament completely naked

Red Deer Regional Hospital Centre’s expansion project is still a high priority, says Alberta Infrastructure Minister Prasad Panda. (File photo by Advocate staff)
Interior work will start this year on Red Deer hospital project, says infrastructure minister

‘We are committed. This is a top priority,’ says Presad Panda

Even with recent restrictions due to rising COVID-19 variant case levels, about 95 per cent of businesses are open in Alberta, said Premier Jason Kenney. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Consistent pandemic policy has helped Alberta, premier says

Alberta fatality rate lower than Canadian average

Richie Laryea of Toronto FC, left, and Jean Meneses of Mexico's Leon battle for the ball during a CONCACAF Champions League soccer match in Leon, Mexico, in Leon, Wednesday, April 7, 2021. Toronto FC hosts Club Leon in the second leg of their Scotiabank CONCACAF Champions League round-of-16 tie holding a valuable away goal after a 1-1 draw last week in Mexico. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP/Mario Armas
Injury-riddled Toronto FC dispatches Club Leon in CONCACAF Champions League play

Injury-riddled Toronto FC dispatches Club Leon in CONCACAF Champions League play

Winnipeg Jets' Dylan DeMelo (2) skates the puck around Ottawa Senators' Thomas Chabot (72) as he holds off Winnipeg Jets' Mason Appleton (22) during first-period NHL action in Ottawa on Wednesday, April 14, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Winnipeg Jets score two third-period goals to secure 3-2 victory over Ottawa Senators

Winnipeg Jets score two third-period goals to secure 3-2 victory over Ottawa Senators

Toronto Raptors forward Chris Boucher (25) shoots over San Antonio Spurs forward Keldon Johnson (3) during the first half of an NBA basketball game Wednesday, April 14, 2021, in Tampa, Fla. (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara)
Anunoby, Siakam rally Raptors past Spurs 117-112

Anunoby, Siakam rally Raptors past Spurs 117-112

John Furlong pitches a broader B.C. bid for 2030 Winter Games

John Furlong pitches a broader B.C. bid for 2030 Winter Games

New York Yankees starting pitcher Corey Kluber throws against the Toronto Blue Jays during the first inning of a baseball game Wednesday, April 14, 2021, in Dunedin, Fla. (AP Photo/Mike Carlson)
Bichette hits 2nd homer in 9th, Blue Jays beat Yankees 5-4

Bichette hits 2nd homer in 9th, Blue Jays beat Yankees 5-4

Oklahoma City Thunder forward Luguentz Dort (5) goes to the basket as Utah Jazz forward Jarrell Brantley (5) defends during the second half of an NBA basketball game Tuesday, April 13, 2021, in Salt Lake City. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP, Rick Bowmer
Undrafted Montreal native Dort continues to smash “glass ceilings” in NBA

Undrafted Montreal native Dort continues to smash “glass ceilings” in NBA

A man wearing a protective mask to help curb the spread of the coronavirus walks past banners for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games in Tokyo, Wednesday, April 14, 2021, to mark 100 days before the start of the Summer Games. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP, Eugene Hoshiko
Rings on the Horizon: Tokyo Summer Olympics hit 100 days out marker

Rings on the Horizon: Tokyo Summer Olympics hit 100 days out marker

Lethbridge Police Chief Shahin Mehdizadeh speaks during a news conference in Lethbridge, Alta., on Wednesday, March 10, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/David Rossiter
‘Right path:’ Lethbridge police release improvement plan in wake of controversies

‘Right path:’ Lethbridge police release improvement plan in wake of controversies

Most Read