Israel Political Brief September 21, 2011: Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper opposes Palestinian’s bid for statehood at UN — Restates Support for Israel



Harper opposes Palestinians’ bid for statehood at UN

Source:, 9-21-11

Prime Minister Stephen Harper called on Palestinians Tuesday to get back to the negotiating table with Israel and declared that their bid for statehood at the United Nations could hamper hopes for peace in the Middle East.

Harper made his comments at a news conference at the UN, where he was attending a meeting of world leaders known as the “Friends of Libya”.

This week, the United Nations General Assembly is holding its annual meeting — drawing leaders from around the globe — and this year’s session is gripped by a bid by the Palestinians for statehood recognition.

The Palestinians have been actively lobbying the international community to support their request – a move which they say would be a major step toward the actual creation of a Palestinian nation.

By achieving such official recognition, they believe they would have a greater international profile and more leverage in their negotiations with Israel.

The United States has indicated it will oppose the request at the UN – expected to come Friday when Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas delivers an address to the UN General Assembly.

Canada has already indicated it will oppose this move. On Tuesday, Harper spoke strongly about why he thinks the proposal is wrong-headed.

“I think there’s no likelihood of this initiative by the Palestinian Authority doing anything to further the peace process,” said the prime minister.

“I think its possible that it could be counter-productive. But I would say if the Palestinian Authority is serious about establishing a sovereign state, the method to do that is not a declaration here at the United Nations. It’s to get back at the negotiating table and negotiate peace with Israel.”

Those comments went further than the remarks Harper made on the subject last Friday.

At that time, he spoke more diplomatically in saying Canada will oppose the move,  which he described as a “unilateral action” that was “regrettable” and would not be “helpful” to long term peace.

Harper will not deliver an address to the General Assembly of the UN — he has done so twice, in 2006 and 2010 since taking power. Instead, Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird will speak to the Assembly on behalf of Canada early next week…. READ MORE

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