Palestinian Officials Call Baird’s East Jerusalem Meeting ‘A Deplorable Step’

The Palestinian officials have expressed deep resentment over the controversial meeting of Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister, John Baird, with an Israeli cabinet minister in East Jerusalem. The Palestinian Authority launched an official and diplomatic protest on Sunday to the Canadian envoy. Last Tuesday, Baird visited the Israel’s chief negotiator with the Palestinians and Justice Minister, Tzipi Livni, in a disputed territory that the Palestinians and the United Nations consider as occupied land.

The Palestinian Foreign Ministry alleged that it summoned Katherine Verrier-Frechette on Sunday “to express its strong dissatisfaction” over the meeting. Whereas a Palestinian official authorized to handle American affairs, Hosni Abdul Wahid, labeled Baird’s meeting as “a deplorable step.” On the other hand, Baird shielded his action by asserting that where he has coffee with someone is “irrelevant” to the larger discussion of Middle East peace and does not signal a shift in Canadian foreign policy. Baird’s spokesperson, Rick Roth, mentioned in an email to The Canadian Press on Sunday that “as guests, we were pleased to meet our hosts where it was most convenient for them.”

As part of a diplomatic protest that was initiated after Baird’s coffee meeting, chief Palestinian negotiator, Saeb Erekat, addressed a strongly-worded letter to Baird. He mentioned on Friday, that “your recent meeting with Israeli officials in East Jerusalem has the effect of attempting to legitimize the illegal situation on the ground and may be deemed as aiding, abetting or otherwise assisting illegal Israeli policies.”

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