Palestinians thank Canada for not supporting U.S. embassy move to Jerusalem

OTTAWA — Palestinian diplomats say they welcome the Trudeau government’s decision not to attend the controversial opening of the new American embassy in Jerusalem on Monday.

But a spokesman for Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland says Canada wasn’t invited.

Canada, along with its major allies, does not support the U.S. embassy move to Jerusalem, saying that’s a decision for a future peace agreement between the Palestinians and Israelis.

Monday’s inauguration of the new U.S. embassy sparked the bloodiest day in four years at the Israel-Gaza border as Israeli forces killed more than 50 Palestinians.

The carnage unfolded several dozen kilometres away from where the Trump administration was following through on its decision to move the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem from Tel Aviv.

Israel blames Hamas for inciting the violence, a position that its ambassador to Canada reiterated in a statement released in Ottawa.

Ambassador Nimrod Barkan said Hamas is a terrorist organization that is trying to “hijack the future of the Palestinian people for its own nefarious ambitions.”

But the Palestinian delegation in Ottawa called the U.S. embassy move “unilateral and illegal” and Israel’s military response to the protests an “immoral act” that relied on “excessive force.”

“Those shocking and bloody images can’t leave us without welcoming the decision of the government of Canada and other governments who didn’t participate in the so-called inauguration ceremony of the U.S. on Palestinian land,” said the statement from the Ottawa delegation.

But the spokesman for Freeland said Canada wasn’t on the guest list for the Jerusalem event.

“It was a bilateral event between the U.S. and Israel and we were not invited,” spokesman Adam Austen said in an email.

On Monday, Freeland tweeted that the violence against civilians, journalists and children was “inexcusable.” She said all parties to the conflict have the responsibility to protect civilians.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and President Donald Trump also discussed the Middle East conflict during a telephone call on Monday.

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