We have been consistently impressed with the leadership of Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper, who is currently in Cancun, Mexico for meetings with Presidents Bush and Fox at a North American summit. We are all the more impressed now, as the news comes that Canada has become the first nation beside Israel to cut off development aid to the Palestinian Authority, now that it is controlled by Hamas, a terrorist organization. The Canadian Press (CP) news service reports:
Canada has become the first country after Israel to cut funding and diplomatic ties to the Palestinian Authority over the new Hamas government's refusal to renounce violence.
The Conservatives say they will still offer humanitarian aid to Palestinians through the United Nations and other agencies. But Foreign Affairs Minister Peter MacKay said Wednesday that Ottawa cannot go farther. "As you know, Hamas is a terrorist organization — listed in this country — and we cannot send any direct aid to an organization that refuses to renounce terrorist activity, refuses to renounce violence."
The news shocked pro—Palestine groups who fear aid will be cut to those living in squalid refugee camps.
The newly installed Palestinian Information Minister, Youssef Rizka, called the Canadian action "hasty" and said it "shows obvious bias."
Palestinian Foreign Minister Mahmoud Zahar told Associated Press television he wasn't surprised by the decision.
"The question is if the Canadian state is willing to starve the Palestinian people while the Israelis are committing big crimes against the Palestinian industry, the Palestinian society," Zahar said.
The official statement from Foreign Minister MacKay and International Cooperation Minister Josee Verner says:
'The Palestinian Legislative Council has approved the formation of a Hamas—led government,' stated Minister MacKay. 'The stated platform of this government has not addressed the concerns raised by Canada and others concerning non—violence, the recognition of Israel, and acceptance of previous agreements and obligations, including the Roadmap for Peace. As a result, Canada will have no contact with the members of the Hamas cabinet and is suspending assistance to the Palestinian Authority,' added the Minister. 'A clear commitment by the Hamas government to the principles that we and the international community have outlined remains an essential precondition for Canada to resume any assistance to the Palestinian Authority.'
'At the same time, Canada remains committed to the ultimate goal of a negotiated, two—state solution to the Israeli—Palestinian conflict,' said Minister Verner. 'Canada also makes an important distinction between assistance to the Palestinian Authority and to Palestinians. Working with our partners and through the United Nations, its agencies and other organizations, Canada will continue to support and respond to the humanitarian needs of the Palestinian people. Canada will also continue to work with the voices of moderation within Palestinian society.'
The Canadian Coalition for Democracies hailed the decision, added background information, and called for further steps.
Since 1993, Canada has sent over $330 million tax dollars to the Palestinians. In that time period, Canada has donated on average $25 million a year to the West Bank and Gaza. As Canadians, we need to ask if our tax dollars have helped Palestinians to become less dependent on foreign aid and if our influence has diminished the inculcation of hatred in Palestinian education and media. Our last government boasted how it was funding Palestinian teachers, but this brief video shows that Jew—hatred and murder are the lessons taught, even to an innocent three—year—old. These lessons must no longer be funded by Canada.
According to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, of the $25 million annual aid, $7.2 million has gone directly to the Palestinian Authority, and that is the portion that will presumably be terminated. Another $10 million per year goes to UNRWA (UN Relief and Works Agency), the agency responsible for Palestinian refugees, and the balance to other NGOs and directly funded projects.
If the Canadian government is genuinely committed to ending the funding of terror, aid to UNRWA must likewise be terminated until there is absolute verification that UNRWA is being run in an effective, neutral, and accountable manner, and that UNRWA plays no role, directly or through Hamas, in terror or incitement. Canada must determine its own policy on UNRWA, regardless of requests from foreign governments.
There is a massive body of evidence that links UNRWA to Hamas and to the worsening plight of refugees (see reports below), and unless the Canadian government can refute that evidence and assure Canadians that our tax dollars are used only for humanitarian projects, then all aid to UNRWA must be terminated. Today, funding UNRWA is little different from funding Hamas directly.
By this decision, the Stephen Harper government has shown true leadership among Western nations. Canadians will accept providing humanitarian aid to people in need, but in Gaza and the West Bank our government must present an irrefutable audit trail proving that our tax dollars are no longer serving the interests of incitement, hatred and terror.
We can only hope that PM Harper will have some influence on his North American peers as they discuss world affairs. Serious warriors against terror cannot subsidize terrorists. It takes guts for PM Harper to act on this obvious truth. His courageous leadership serves as a beacon of moral clarity for democracies all over the world. It is truly wonderful to have such a neighbor. Our high hopes for Canada under Harper have already been vindicated and even exceeded. Sometimes a new neighbor sparks an improvement in the neighborhood. This may be the case in our own continental neighborhood.
Thomas Lifson 3 30 06