Canadian aid to Palestinians to continue despite Hamas role in government
Foreign minister says Canada will 'watch the situation very closely'
Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird says the Canadian government will continue to work with the Palestinian Authority, despite expressing earlier concern about the new Palestinian unity government’s connection to Hamas, which is listed as a terrorist organization under Canadian law.
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas swore in a national unity government earlier this month with his Islamic militant Hamas rivals, drawing Israeli threats of retaliation.
At the time, Baird said Canada would only deal with a Palestinian government that renounced terrorism and recognized Israel's right to exist.
In an interview with CBC News Network's Power & Politics on Monday, Baird was asked whether Canada would continue to provide Palestinians with $66 million in aid.
While Baird did not answer the question directly, he said "there are no Hamas ministers or Hamas officials in the government and we've got to acknowledge that fact.
"So we're going to continue to obviously work with President Abbas and his government, but we're going to continue to watch the situation very closely," Baird said.
After the interview, a spokesman for Baird told Power & Politics that Canada would in fact continue to provide Palestinians with $66 million in aid, but clarified that Canada does not directly fund the Palestinian Authority.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper made the announcement in January during his visit to the West Bank city of Ramallah, where he met with Abbas.
According to the government, the money is intended to help advance the peace process, promote security and deliver humanitarian assistance to Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza.