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Palestinian Authority policemen in Ramallah
photo by Rhonda Spivak

John Baird

Hanan Ashwari



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.<>. 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. 

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. 


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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.