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July 3, 2013

Baird complicit in land theft?

Reuel S. Amdur

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Was John Baird's meeting with Israeli cabinet member Tzipi Livni in East Jerusalem on April 9 just a simple mistake? Thomas Woodley, president of Canadians for Justice and Peace in the Middle East, does not think so.

The meeting took place in the part of Jerusalem recognized as Palestinian territory.  “I see the meeting there as deliberate,” he said.  Canada also has recognized that part of Jerusalem as part of Palestine.  What makes Woodley think that Baird knowingly held the meeting with Livni on occupied Palestinian territory?

“In the first place, Canadian career diplomats would have alerted him to the implications of holding the meeting there.  In the second place, when confronted with what he had done he did not excuse himself for making a mistake.  Instead he commented that it was not a big deal on which side of the street the meeting took place.” 

This matter should be seen in the context of Baird’s earlier threat to cut off aid to Palestine should it take Israel to the International Court of Justice.  After all, Judge Baird has already decided on the merits of any case relating to Israel that may ever be brought.

According to Woodley, “Canada will never be a military superpower.  It used to be a moral superpower.  We stood apart, representing principles.  We have lost our role of honest broker, trusted mediator.  Have we moved to the opposite extreme—moral criminal?  Are we undermining the principles on which a free society operates?”

The next question relates to Tsipi Livni’s role. 

Clearly, she must have been aware of the implications of meeting Baird on Palestinian territory.  The location was not chosen by chance and may well have been deliberately staged.  Her role becomes all the more paradoxical as she is supposed to be the dove in the Netanyahu cabinet, assigned the task of working for peace with the Palestinians.

On April 18, she went so far as to condemn her own government’s policy of building Jewish housing in the so-called E-1 sector, which will cut the West Bank in two.  She called it “a provocation”.  So what if not a provocation was the location of the meeting with Baird?

Baird knew what he was doing.  Livni apparently does not know what she is doing.

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