Palestinians blast Canada FM’s visit to east Jerusalem

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Canadian Foreign Minister John Baird’s meeting with an Israeli minister in annexed Arab east Jerusalem this week was a “slap in the face” to Palestinians, a Palestinian official said Friday.

Baird met Israeli Justice Minister Tzipi Livni at her office in east Jerusalem on Tuesday, in a move normally avoided by visiting diplomats because it could be seen as legitimizing Israel’s controversial annexation.

“The visit is a slap in the face to the Palestinian people,” former Palestinian foreign minister Nabil Shaath wrote in a commentary published by Canada’s daily Globe and Mail.

Shaath, a Fatah Central Committee member in charge of international relations, called Baird’s visit an “unprecedented recognition of the illegal Israeli annexation of Palestinians’ occupied capital,” adding that it undermines U.S. efforts to restart Israeli-Palestinian negotiations.

Shaath said the “unprecedented offense” would cause “severe” damage to Canada’s relations with the Palestinians, the Arab world and those committed to a two-state solution to the decades-old conflict.

Israel captured east Jerusalem during the 1967 Six Day War and later annexed it in a move never recognized by the international community.

Israel considers all of Jerusalem its “eternal, indivisible” capital, but the Palestinians want the eastern sector as capital of their future state.

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