The Canadian Jewish News
|By ANDY LEVY-AJZENKOPF, Staff Reporter|
|Thursday, 03 January 2008|
Canadian financial support for the Middle East peace process should be followed by careful monitoring.
So said the Canada-Israel Committee – the official representative of the organized Canadian Jewish community on matters pertaining to Canada-Israel relations – following Canada’s December pledge of $300 million in aid to the Palestine Authority over the next five years, as part of a world effort to help continue the renewed Middle East peace process begun in Annapolis last November.
A total of $7.4 billion worth of aid to the Palestinians was promised by some 90 foreign delegates at the Dec. 17 Paris donors’ conference, convened for funding talks with PA President Mahmoud Abbas.
Immediately after Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister Maxime Bernier, above left, pledged Canadian aid at the conference, the CIC urged the government to exercise due diligence before handing over the money.
The committee said it held out “guarded optimism” for a renewed peace with the caveat that Canada ensure its funds don’t fall into the wrong hands.
“The announcement… speaks to Canada’s enhanced role in the Israel-Palestinian peace process over the past two years. With our increased role… comes the added responsibility of ensuring that Canadian assistance benefits from careful monitoring and measures to ensure accountability and transparency,” said Moshe Ronen, national chair of the CIC in a press release.
“True peace between Israelis and the Palestinians can only be achieved on the basis of an economically viable and democratic Palestinian Authority. To that end, the PA must undertake real democratic and institutional reforms, such as building an independent judiciary, developing business and industry, and creating the infrastructure for a successful civil society. The CIC welcomes Canada’s increased role in assisting to bring about this reality.”
At the Paris conference, Bernier noted that Canada’s funding would go towards “institution-building in the Palestinian Authority and [helping to] build a better public service for all Palestinians. We will also work with Canadian and local non-governmental organizations, other actors and the Palestinian Authority to promote tolerance and combat hatred and the incitement of violence,” he said. “And to improve prosperity, we will help to stimulate the Palestinian economy through its private sector.”
Bernier added that Canada’s aid would not be unconditional.
“We will need to see demonstrable progress in negotiations by both sides, as well as progress in Palestinian democratic reforms,” he said.
When contacted about what mechanisms Canada will use to hold the PA responsible for proper distribution of the funds, Neil Hrab, director of communications for the Department of Foreign Affairs told The CJN that all funding would correspond to Canadian anti-terrorism legislation.
“Canada will ensure that Canadian funds do not directly or indirectly benefit Hamas or other terrorist groups listed under Canadian law,” Hrab said.