It was far more than a simple gaffe, although by Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird’s unperturbed reaction, one would be hard pressed to tell.
On April 9, Canada’s foreign minister decided to cross the Green Line into Arab East Jerusalem to have coffee with his Israeli interlocutor Tzipi Livni. It was a breach of diplomatic protocol and a violation of longstanding Canadian policy — but Mr. Baird tranquilly characterized such “semantic argument(s)” as “irrelevant.”
Only a government so doggedly committed to one side of a dispute, living in its own Manichean creation, could have the gall to meet with officials of an occupying state in the land of an occupied people in search of “peace.” Since 1967, the consensus among Western states has been not to meet with Israeli officials on illegally occupied territory because doing so would be a de facto legitimation of Israel’s claims to East Jerusalem and the West Bank, illegal under international law.
Nabil Shaath, former foreign minister of the Palestinian Authority, called Baird’s incendiary coffee run a “slap in the face to the Palestinian people” at a time when the U.S. Secretary of State was shuttling between both camps to restart negotiations.