Canadian Reversal: Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird backs Obama’s 1967-border proposal for Israel

In apparent reversal, Baird backs Obama’s 1967-border proposal

Source: Globe & Mail, 6-2-11

Canada wants Israel to use its 1967 borders as the starting point for negotiations with Palestinians seeking independence, Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird said Wednesday, just days after Prime Minister Stephen Harper is said to have prevented such language from being included in a G8 statement on the matter.

Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird, right, and Prime Minister Stephen Harper are seen at the G8 summit in Deauville, France, May 26, 2011. - Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird, right, and Prime Minister Stephen Harper are seen at the G8 summit in Deauville, France, May 26, 2011. | Andrew Winning/ReutersSpeaking to reporters on Parliament Hill, Mr. Baird backed U.S. President Barack Obama’s call for Israel to either return East Jerusalem to the Palestinians and dismantle settlements in the West Bank or hand over other territory in compensation as part of the creation of an independent Palestinian state.

“We support, obviously, that that solution has to be based on the ’67 border, with mutually agreed upon swaps, as President Obama said,” Mr. Baird said.

Although such a solution is widely accepted among the international community and the United Nations, the Israeli government has no desire to share Jerusalem with an independent Palestine. It has continued a process of moving Israeli settlers into Palestinian territory. When Mr. Obama affirmed his support for the 1967 border, Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu roundly rejected it.

Politicians in North America have also steered clear of references to the 1967 borders, wary of upsetting the Israeli community. Mr. Harper, a staunch supporter of Israel, refused to support Mr. Obama’s words previously, even though they reflected Canada’s official position. As recently as last week, he stuck to the position at the G8 summit, diplomats said….

Mr. Baird said his statement was not an about-face in Tory policy, but he appeared not to be familiar with Resolution 242, the 1967 UN declaration calling on Israel to pull its troops back.

Interim Liberal Leader Bob Rae, who has an interest in foreign affairs, demonstrated his knowledge of the issue with a casual reference to 242.

“Go back to President Nixon, Mr. Kissinger, all that, all the efforts, the Madrid process, the Oslo process, all the events, the Annapolis process, more recently the effort that President Obama began. All these efforts since what, 40 years, are based on 242.”

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Prime Minister’s Office Denies Shalit Deal

Source: Virtual Jerusalem, 6-2-11

The Prime Minister’s Office strongly denies a report by Egyptian daily “Al Mesryoon”, which quotes former Egyptian Ambassador to Israel Mohammad Bassiouny as saying that a deal to free IDF Corporal Gilad Shalit will be reached within hours. Hamas kidnapped Shalit in Israeli territory over four years ago. Hamas-affiliated websites are making similar claims.

Bassiouny said that Ministry of Defense Diplomatic Security Bureau director Amos Gilad was in Cairo yesterday with a message that Israel had agreed to release all the prisoners demanded by Hamas in exchange for Gilad. “The conditions are ready for a deal, especially after the signing of the Palestinian reconciliation agreement. I expect the affair will end within hours,” he said, adding, “Amos Gilad was in Cairo on Wednesday to negotiate with senior Egyptian officials on mediation efforts for a deal. Gilad also spoke with senior Egyptian officials on the opening of the Rafah border crossing.”

Bassiouny later slightly backtracked claiming that he had not specified a time frame for the release of Shalit.

A Hamas website reported that a deal could include the release of 1,200 prisoners. Egypt is continuing efforts to persuade Israel to release high-level prisoners as part of a deal, including Abdullah Barghouti, Hassin Youssef, Achmed Saadat, and Marwan Barghouti.

The head of Hamas’s military arm, Achmed Jabari has also been in Cairo in the past few days, where he met with the head of Egyptian intelligence. The two men reportedly discussed progress on a deal.

Mitt Romney: Obama treats Israel with ‘distrust’

Romney: Obama treats Israel with ‘distrust’

Source: JTA, 6-2-11

Mitt Romney, launching his presidential bid, said President Obama treats Israel with “distrust.”

Romney, a former Massachusetts governor, announced his second bid Thursday for the Republican presidential nomination at a farm in New Hampshire.

Much of his speech focused on what he said were Obama’s failures with the economy, but he also faulted the president’s foreign policy, particularly when it came to Israel.

“He seems firmly and clearly determined to undermine our longtime friend and ally,” he said. “He’s treating Israel the same way so many European countries have: with suspicion, distrust and an assumption that Israel is at fault.”

Romney had accused Obama of “throwing Israel under the bus” after the president’s May 19 policy speech in which he called for Israeli-Palestinian negotiations to be based on 1967 lines, with mutually agreed land swaps.

In the same speech, Obama said that Israel must have security guarantees, called for a non-militarized Palestinian state and faulted the Palestinian Authority for its recent pact with Hamas and for seeking statehood through U.N. recognition.

Sarah Palin sports Star of David during N.Y. visit

Source: JTA, 6-2-11

Sarah Palin visited New York tourist spots sporting a large Star of David around her neck.

Palin, who visited the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island on Wednesday with her daughter Piper, told WNBC-TV that she was wearing the Star of David in honor of Jerusalem Day, which marks the city’s reunification under Israeli sovereignty during the Six-Day War in June 1967.

Observers have suggested that she wore the necklace in order to drum up support among Jewish New Yorkers for a possible 2012 bid for president.

Palin, who ran unsuccessfully for vice president as John McCain’s running mate in 2008, visited Washington, Maryland and Pennsylvania this week before arriving in New York.

The former Alaska governor caused a stir in March when she wore a Star of David around her neck during a brief visit to Israel, including to the Western Wall and a meeting with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister Baird backs Obama approach to Mideast, Israel’s Borders

Is Canada jumping ship and abandoning its pro-Israel policy, the lone supporter among the G8 nations?

Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird on Wednesday backed U.S. President Barack Obama's Mideast approach. Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird on Wednesday backed U.S. President Barack Obama’s Mideast approach. (The Canadian Press)

Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird says Canada does support a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict – based on pre-1967 borders.

It’s a statement which goes further than Prime Minister Stephen Harper has so far been willing to say publicly.

“We support a two-state solution, we support, obviously – that solution has got to be based on the ’67 borders. With the mutually agreed upon swaps, as President Obama said,” Baird said today in response to reporters’ questions after a Conservative caucus in Ottawa.

When asked to clarify if he meant the pre-1967 borders, Baird was unequivocal: “We’ve said that’s Canadian foreign policy, yes.”

Ahead of last week’s G8 Summit in France, U.S. President Barack Obama said the “starting point” of a new round of Middle East peace talks should be the establishment of separate Israeli and Palestinian states based on the borders as they existed before the war of 1967, with negotiated land swaps.

However, no reference to that specific point was included in the G8’s final declaration. Several international news agencies reported that a mention of the 1967 borders was removed at the insistence of Harper.

At the conclusion of the summit, Harper was asked if he did, in fact, insist the language be changed.

Harper would only say: “We are pleased the statement coming out of the G8 is a balanced statement.”

When asked if he supported Obama’s approach, Harper replied: “I am comfortable with, very comfortable, we’re very much at ease with President Obama’s speech, but you can’t cherry pick elements of that speech.”

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