A Palestinian protester holds a poster with a photo of Canadian Foreign Minister John Baird that reads in Arabic, “You should be ashamed of your biased position towards Israel,” during Baird’s meeting with PA Foreign Minister Riad Maliki, in Ramallah, Sunday, Jan. 18, 2015. (photo credit: AP Photo/Nasser Nasser)
John Baird has no intention of apologizing. The Palestinians would like the Canadian foreign minister to say he’s sorry for his government’s unabashedly pro-Israel stance. They shouldn’t hold their breath.
In fact, Baird is waiting for an apology from Ramallah — not for having his car pelted with eggs and shoes Sunday during his visit there, but for a top Palestinian official’s comparison between Israel and terrorists of the Islamic State.
“People may disagree with our position with respect to Israel, but so be it,” Baird said Tuesday in Tel Aviv, as he wrapped up a three-day visit to the region. “It’s always wise to speak with moral clarity,” he submitted, adding that despite Ottawa’s unflinching friendship with the Jewish state, “we have a pretty good relationship with most of the Arab countries in the region.”
But evidently not so much with the Palestinians, as his visit to Ramallah Sunday underlined. While Palestinian protestors booed, hurled shoes and eggs at Baird and told him he was unwelcome in their land, senior Palestine Liberation Organization official and ex-chief peace negotiator Saeb Erekat released a statement denouncing Baird and urging him to ask the Palestinian people for forgiveness for his country’s consistent support for Israel.
“The Palestinian people as well as the rest of the Arab and Muslim countries deserve an apology from the Canadian government for years of systematic attempts at blocking the right of the Palestinian people to a state of their own,” Erekat declared. Canada stands “on the wrong side of history” by blindly supporting Israel’s “apartheid policies,” Erekat charged, attacking Baird personally for contributing to alleged Israeli violations of Palestinian rights.
Speaking to The Times of Israel in his Tel Aviv hotel, Ottawa’s top diplomat made crystal clear he makes no apology for his government’s positions on Israel. Instead, he noted that he is awaiting an apology from Erekat, who earlier this month said Israel’s settlement building in the West Bank was “terrorism” tantamount to that practiced by the Islamic State.
“That speaks volumes,” Baird said of Erekat’s comparison. “I’ll leave it to any fair-minded observer to come to conclusions about him,” he added diplomatically…