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Palestinian Authority policemen in Ramallah
photo by Rhonda Spivak


John Baird


Hanan Ashwari

 
CANADIAN GOVERNMENT WHICH FUNDS PA POLICE AND JUSTICE SYSTEM MONITORING PRISONER RELEASE AGREEMENT

DEPT OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS SAYS CANADA CAN NOT TOLERATE AID TO SUPPORT TERRORISM- MONITORS FATAH-HAMAS NEW AUG. AGREEMENT

by Rhonda J. Spivak, August 25, 2011

  

On August 8, both the Jerusalem Post and Ma'an News agency reported that Fatah and Hamas agreed in Cairo to a mutual release of political prisoners.<http://www.jpost.com/DiplomacyAndPolitics/Article.aspx?id=232842>. This follows their reconciliation agreement that occured earlier in the year. 

Canada has invested significant resources in the Palestinian Authority justice system and in the training of the Palestinian Authority civilian police and  PA security forces under the auspicies of the United States Security Co-Ordinator.

The release of Hamas convicts from PA jails in the West Bank will occur as a result of this agreement, once it has been implemented.

This week, the Winnipeg Jewish Review spoke by telephone with Dov Schwartz, media spokesperson for the  United States Security Co-ordiantor General Moeller  who is in charge of training  PA security forces. We asked Schwartz if the PA had released Hamas convicts pursuant to the Cairo August 7 agreement for a prisoner release. Schwartz replied, "We are not giving any media interviews."

In light of the announced prisoner release agreement, the  Winnipeg Jewish Review contacted Canada's Department of Foreign Affairs and interantional Trade with a series of questions pertaining to canada's response to the Fatah-Hamas prisoner -swap agreement. We received responses by email to our inquiries some ten 10 days later on  August 18 from spokesperson Aliya Mawani.

Below are the series of questions and  answers in their entirety: 

Q: 1. What actions will Canada be taking in light of this release of terrorists which is completely counter to Canadian values and the reasons why Canada agreed to invest in the PA justice and police system to begin with? [the whole purpose of the PA security force was to reign in extremists and not release them?] 
 
 
A: The Government of Canada's position is very clear. We will not tolerate any misuse of Canadian aid to support terrorism or undermine legitimate democratic states. Hamas is a listed terrorist organization. The Government of Canada has no contact with Hamas. Canada cannot support a government that includes Hamas. Canada recognizes Israel's right to ensure its own security. 


Q.
2. Will Canada announce its intention to cut off aid to the PA police and justice system in light of this agreement to release Hamas prisoners?
 

A; We are monitoring the situation carefully and will respond appropriately. 
  


3. Will Canada's Foreign Minister Baird plan an immediate visit to the region to learn firsthand whether the PA has in fact begun releasing Hamas terrorists? 
  
A. Such a visit is not currently planned, although Minister Baird has visited the region several times and in various capacities. 


  
Q.4. Will Canada initiate discussions or call an emergency meeting with U.S. and the European Union officials who have also invested in the PA to cease training and equipping PA forces in light of the fact that the PA intends to release Hamas terrorists from its jails? 
  

A.We are monitoring the situation carefully and will respond appropriately. 
  


Q.5. Is Canada surprised by this political prisoner’s agreement between the PA and Hamas? 
  
A. The agreement reached on August 7 is part of ongoing discussions between the PA and Hamas on national reconciliation, with a number of committees to be established, including one on prisoners.   
  
We are monitoring the implementation of the reconciliation deal closely and stand ready to respond as required. 


  
6. Why should Canadian taxpayers money go towards developing a police force and justice system under an authority which agrees to release terrorists who are part of a terrorist organization[ Hamas] -one which is recognized as a terrorist organization in Canada? 
  

A. We are monitoring the situation carefully and will respond appropriately. 
  


7. Does continuing aid to the PA under these circumstances violate Canadian law which does not allow for the aiding/support of terrorists? 
  
A. As noted above, the Government of Canada's position is very clear. We will not tolerate any misuse of Canadian aid to support terrorism or undermine legitimate democratic states. Hamas is a listed terrorist organization. The Government of Canada has no contact with Hamas. Canada cannot support a government that includes Hamas. Canada recognizes Israel's right to ensure its own security.   


8. Will Canada demand of the PA to see a list of the Hamas prisoners who are going to be released, and, if not, why not? 
  

A. We are monitoring the situation carefully and will respond appropriately. 

  
9. When [Palestinian Spokesperson] Hanan Ashrawi was in Canada in July and Foreign Minister Baird met with her, did he raise the issue of potential release by the PA of Hamas prisoners? If so, what was the nature of their conversation on this topic? 
  
-Minister Baird and Ms. Ashrawi discussed a number of issues during their meeting. Minister Baird reiterated that Canada would not support an initiative at the UN seeking recognition of a Palestinian state.   


  
10. Who are the Ministers who met with Hanan Ashrawi when she was in Canada? 
  
-We cannot speak for other Ministers. 

 

Subsequent to receiving the above responses, the Winnipeg Jewish Review sent further inquiries on August 22 to Malawi regarding the reported misuse of PA security forces by PA President Mahmpoud Abbas to clamp down onm a political rival within Fatah that appears to be bolstering  the popularity of Hamas in the West  Bank.

Here is the content of an email sent to Malawi:

 

Q. Khaled Abu Toemeh, a prize winning Palestinian journalist, wrote recently in the Jerusalem Post that  PA President Mahmoud Abbas is using the PA security forces ( which Canada is training ) improperly to  squelch a political rival, Mohammed Dahlan, who has accused Abbas and his sons of corruption. [Abbas-Dahlan Spat Undermining Fatah, Bolstering Hamas,, http://www.jpost.com/MiddleEast/Article.aspx?id=233792]                     ]

 
According to the report, PA forces are being used in a fashion that is inconsistent with " the rule of law" and a democratic justice system.
 
According to the report there are people (supporters of Dahlan) being held without trial, and  the report indicates that the clampdown on Dahlan "without the rule of law" is going to serve to undermine the PA and bolster Hamas in the  West Bank. 
 
My questions are:
 
1. Has Canada, as  a country that has invested heavily in training  PA security forces and in the PA justice system  expressed any concern about the apparently improper use of the PA security forces?  If not, why not?
 
2. Can Canada confirm whether  as this report says Dahlan supporters are being held without trial, and if so, whether Canada has voiced its objection?
 
3. Will Canada be conducting an investigation to see if PA security forces it is training and equipping (under U.S.  Security Co-Ordinator General Moeller where Canada has 19 officers training PA security forces) are acting in a manner that is contrary to the rule of law? Or has an investigation into this  already occurred, and if so, what are the findings?
 
4. To what extent,if any, is Canada monitoring or supervising the way in which the PA security forces are being used by PA President Abbas, and does Canada have concerns that they are being used improperly to clamp down on a political rival? 
 
 
I look forward to your answers and hope you can send me something by next Tuesday [August 29, 2011]. If you will need more time, please let me know as I will certainly wait for your answers.
 
As always, thanks  for all of your assistance,
 
Rhonda Spivak, editor, Winnipeg Jewish Review

 

We will update readers once we have received answers to our inquiries.


 
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Rhonda Spivak, Editor

Publisher: Spivak's Jewish Review Ltd.


Opinions expressed in letters to the editor or articles by contributing writers are not necessarily endorsed by Winnipeg Jewish Review.