Written by Atara Beck
|Thursday, 24 February 2011|
TORONTO-MONTREAL – A meeting between Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas and the Canadian Jewish community is “in abeyance for now,” due to the current volatile situation in the Middle East, said Liberal MP Irwin Cotler, who initiated the meeting.
Originally Abbas was scheduled to arrive on Feb. 27. A new time has not been determined, although there is talk of an early April date.
Cotler had initially spoken to Frank Dimant, CEO of B’nai Brith Canada, regarding his plans for the meeting. He wanted to ensure that B’nai Brith Canada’s positions were fully represented in face-to-face discussions and in the planning process.
Cotler told the Jewish Tribune in a telephone interview that he followed up with discussions with leaders of other community organizations as well, and Palestinian representatives here had contacted Shimon Fogel, newly appointed CEO of the organization to replace CIJA.
A report in last week’s Canadian Jewish News (CJN) was inaccurate in stating that Fogel was the only Jewish community leader made aware of the visit, Cotler said.
Cotler didn’t want a visit by Abbas to become a partisan issue.
“I didn’t want to do it alone,” he explained. “I wanted it to be bi-partisan, under the aegis of the Joint House-Senate Committee on Middle East Peace and Reconciliation…. It will include a representative group from the Jewish community.”
He invited Conservative Senators Linda Frum and Hugh Segal; Cotler and MP Bob Rae would represent the Liberals.
According to the CJN report, Abbas said that “while he doesn’t deny that incitement against Israel takes place in the PA, ‘I’m not going to play the blame game. There’s also incitement on the Israeli side.’”
According to Cotler, “Abbas never said there was incitement on the Israeli side. The CJN got it wrong. It was the exact opposite. I have witnesses.”
Nevertheless, he conceded that talks between the PA and Israel would be “more difficult than the Egyptian agreement. But I still believe in the same principle: direct negotiations.”
Asked how an agreement with Abbas could be effective, considering his fragile position among his own people and the instability in the region, Cotler said:
“I did bring up the issue of Hamas. It was Abbas’s view that if he and Netanyahu would come to an agreement, the Palestinian people would support it with a referendum.”
|Last Updated ( Thursday, 24 February 2011 )|