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March 30, 2006
Canada First To Cut Off Hamas

The Canadians became the first nation besides Israel to formally cut off funds to the Palestinian Authority after its Hamas-controlled government officially took power yesterday. The nation's Foreign Affairs Minister, Peter MacKay, announced that Canada would not support terrorists regardless of whether they win elections or not:

Canada has become the first country after Israel to cut funding and diplomatic ties to the Palestinian Authority over the new Hamas government’s refusal to renounce violence. ...

“As you know, Hamas is a terrorist organization — listed in this country — and we cannot send any direct aid to an organization that refuses to renounce terrorist activity, refuses to renounce violence.”

The news shocked pro-Palestine groups who fear aid will be cut to those living in squalid refugee camps. ...

“The stated platform of this government has not addressed the concerns raised by Canada and others concerning non-violence, the recognition of Israel, and acceptance of previous agreements and obligations, including the Roadmap for Peace.

“As a result, Canada will have no contact with the members of the Hamas cabinet and is suspending assistance to the Palestinian Authority.”

The new policy and the speed in which Stephen Harper implemented it may have truly caught the Palestinians by surprise. They surely expect a similar reaction from the US, but they had hoped that Europe and Canada would offer more moderation, more talks, and more money as an incentive to keep Hamas at the bargaining table. Hamas tried to keep that gambit alive in Ismail Haniyeh's double-talk prior to the Israeli election, hinting that Hamas might negotiate with the Israelis but refusing to change its stated goal of the destruction of Israel.

This development strikes a significant blow to those hopes. No one pretends that the EU has much interest in unity with the US on foreign policy, but Canada has been a reliable partner for the past few years for Europe. Having Canada leap out ahead of even the US to isolate Hamas and disengage from the Palestinian Authority places much more pressure on the EU to follow suit. Even with the Tories in power in Ottawa, it will be impossible for Europe to characterize the Canadian government action as a radical right-wing move.

Harper really has cast a gauntlet down to all parties. He has challenged the Palestinians to acknowledge that choices have consequences, especially in elections, and Europe to follow through on its own policies of non-negotiation with terrorists. Harper's action also prods Washington to join him soon; if we delay, we may wind up leaving Harper twisting in the political wind.

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Posted by Ed Morrissey at March 30, 2006 5:58 AM

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