Canadians urged to exercise caution in Middle East ahead of protests

Protests are in reaction to Trump’s announcement that the U.S. will recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel

Canadians in the Middle East were being urged to exercise caution ahead of planned protests against the Trump administration’s announcement it will recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

But the advisories from the Global Affairs department were the only federal government acknowledgment Wednesday that the U.S. move could pose a threat to stability in the region.

Senior Liberal parliamentarians wouldn’t comment on the implications of U.S. President Donald Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital and eventually move that country’s embassy there.

Instead, they insisted Canada’s position had not and would not change. Canada’s diplomatic outpost in the country will remain in Tel Aviv, Global Affairs said, and the question of Jerusalem’s status can only be answered as part of the peace process.

“Canada is a steadfast ally and friend of Israel and friend to the Palestinian people,” said Adam Austen, a spokesman for Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland. “Canada’s long standing position is that the status of Jerusalem can be resolved only as part of a general settlement of the Palestinian-Israeli dispute.”

Freeland had been briefed on the impending decision in a call Monday with U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, sources told The Canadian Press.

Freeland’s parliamentary secretary suggested a “wait and see” approach to the outcome of Trump’s pronouncement.

“The decision is a unilateral one by the president of the United States,” Andrew Leslie said.

Trump administration officials cast the president’s impending announcement as a simple acknowledgment of the “historical and current reality” of Jerusalem, which Israel effectively controls but whose status has been contested for centuries.

But any presidential pronouncement, even couched as Trump’s personal opinion, breaks from Washington’s painstakingly maintained position of neutrality, which has held that the city’s ultimate fate must be determined through Israeli-Palestinian negotiation.

Ahead of Trump’s White House speech, Arab and Muslim leaders spoke about the potential for violence. In Gaza, hundreds of Palestinian protesters burned American and Israeli flags. They also waved Palestinian flags and banners proclaiming Jerusalem as their “eternal capital,” language that Israelis similarly use.

New Democrat Leader Jagmeet Singh said it’s clear that Trump’s move is counterproductive and Canada should speak up.

“It is something that needs to be pointed out as being divisive,” Singh said.

During the 1979 Canadian federal election, Progressive Conservative Leader Joe Clark had pledged to move Canada’s embassy to Jerusalem, and had repeated the promise when he was elected prime minister.

He faced stiff opposition to the idea, including from then-opposition leader Pierre Trudeau who called the move damaging to Canada’s credibility in the region.

Clark appointed former party leader Robert Stanfield as a special envoy to the region, and he returned with a report recommending Canada’s diplomatic mission stay put.

Clark agreed.

Subsequent Conservative politicians in Canada have also supported the embassy’s move, most recently federal party leadership candidate Kellie Leitch. She made the promise as part of her leadership bid earlier this year.

Former Conservative foreign affairs minister John Baird attracted criticism in 2013 when he met a high-ranking Israeli politician in her office in East Jerusalem; that half of the city was captured by Israel in 1967.

— with files from the Associated Press

The Canadian Press

Just Posted

Is Steve Nash Vancouver Island’s best athlete of all-time?

As Captain Canada gets ready to enter basketball’s Hall of Fame it’s time to debate his legacy

Who is Vancouver Island’s greatest athlete ever?

We want to know, you get to choose in a 64-athlete tournament bracket

Tofino mayor says private market won’t solve housing woes

To completely close the affordability gap, Tofino must invest directly in affordable rental housing.

Highway 4 closures to begin May 28

Road to Tofino and Ucluelet receiving $38 million upgrade.

VIDEO: After the floods, comes the cleanup as Grand Forks rebuilds

Business owners in downtown wonder how long it will take for things to go back to normal

UBC professor claims victory at B.C. car race

A physics engineering professor had the fastest time during Kelowna hill climb race

MP Karina Gould back to Hill with baby Oliver for electoral reform bill

Gould brought Oliver to work with her as she resumed duties as democratic institutions minister

VIDEO: Footage of 2 shrieking lynx posted by Canadians goes viral

The videos — one shot by a man and his girlfriend — show two lynx sitting face-to-face, shrieking

Teen must repay $37M for starting Oregon wildfire

A teenager who started a major wildfire in Oregon has been ordered to pay restitution

Canada’s G7 goal on development: luring private capital to poor nations

G7 finance and international development ministers convene in British Columbia next week

Congressional leaders to review information on Russia probe

Trump said he will “demand” that the Justice Department open an investigation into whether the FBI infiltrated his presidential campaign

Canadians stranded in Cuba after plane crash returning home

Montreal-based travel agency says hundreds of Canadians who were stuck in Cuba since a plane crash last week are returning home

As summit looms, North Korean media return to angry tone

North Korean media are stepping up their rhetorical attacks on South Korea and joint military exercises with the United States

Most Read