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Canadian Policy: The Jerusalem effect

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Message Bahija Reghai

While Canadians may agree that Israel's security is important, they may not agree that it should supersede their own country's security and interests. They may agree or disagree with the use of nuclear power, but they would certainly balk at a Canadian Minister's need to seek assurances from "an expert... at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem" that CANDU is "not conducive to the development of weapons grade uranium."

Whether Canada sells to Jordan or not, revealing to a third party on-going trade discussions is highly inappropriate and undermines Canada's own interests. Surely, Toews could have enquired in Canada, using Canadian experts, before starting discussions with Jordan.

Toews also stated that "in the past, Canada aid earmarked for UNRWA went into a general operating fund in the PA Treasury and although Jarbawi had asked that this situation continue, the practice made it difficult for Canada to monitor how the funds were being used." Had he consulted his colleague at CIDA, or the Director of UNRWA Operations (Jerusalem), Barbara Shenstone, who happens to be Canadian, he would have known that UNRWA's funds do not go the PA Treasury but are paid directly to UNRWA.

The notion that it is "difficult" for Canada to monitor how funds to UNRWA's general operating budget are used is misleading. UNRWA keeps and publishes detailed accounts of expenditure and records of related income, which are audited on behalf of Canada and all other UN Member states by independent international auditors appointed by the General Assembly.

In the case of the projects, Canada not only receives detailed dollar-by-dollar and narrative reports but is often involved in the planning at every stage of development, and appoints technical advisers to assist. As to staff, UNRWA has been periodically running names through Israel's intelligence services.

If this level of accountability didn't satisfy Cannon, he could have taken steps similar to those stated by Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton in her testimony before the House Appropriations Subcommittee on State, Foreign Operations and Related Programs on April 23, 2009: ""They have taken additional steps, partly at our urging, to make their process more transparent, consistent with both United Nations commitments and U.S. legislation"They share staff lists with us and with Israel. They prohibit staff participation in political activities""

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Bahija Reghai is a Canadian Human Rights activist and a former president of the National COuncil on Canada-Arab Relations (NCCAR).
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