Prime Minister Meets Palestinian Authority President Abbas
May 27, 2005
Prime Minister Paul Martin welcomed Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas to Ottawa today for a working visit, the first since Mr. Abbas' election as President of the PA in January 2005. It was also the first visit to Canada by the head of the PA since 2000.
"President Abbas' visit is of great importance and helped strengthen Canada's relations with the Palestinian Authority," said the Prime Minister. "Our discussions reflected how vital it is that both Israel and the Palestinian Authority implement their respective Roadmap obligations and accelerate efforts toward peace. It is essential that they coordinate the implementation of Israel's withdrawal and take maximum advantage of this opportunity. Canada believes in the two-state solution: Israel and a sovereign, independent, viable, democratic and territorially contiguous Palestinian state, living side by side in peace and security."
Canada first endorsed the goal of a two-state solution almost 60 years ago, and it supports the establishment of a Palestinian state by means of a negotiated permanent status agreement. Canada is committed to helping the parties reach a fair, comprehensive and lasting peace through negotiations in accordance with the Roadmap.
Earlier this year, Canada conducted assessment missions in order to consult with the PA on how Canadian capabilities could be matched to Palestinian needs and priorities in the areas of governance, security and the economy. Our efforts to increase our activity, in close coordination with the international community, will continue.
After meeting with President Abbas, the Prime Minister announced several measures to enhance Canada's support for the PA and the peace process, which can be found in the attached backgrounder.
Rule of law and judicial reform (up to $5 million): Canada, through the University of Windsor, will promote the impartiality of judges and training in human rights. This four-year project will be implemented in collaboration with Birzeit University in the West Bank, and will involve three Canadian judges: Federal Court Justice Doug Campbell, retired Supreme Court Justice Claire L'Heureux-Dubé, and Alberta Chief Justice Catherine Fraser. Canada will also focus on institution building by providing technical assistance to the Ministry of Justice and to the Steering Committee directly mandated by President Abbas to reform the judicial sector.
In addition, Justice Minister Irwin Cotler will establish a justice ministers' forum in order to cultivate a dialogue on the rule of law and a common agenda for justice involving the PA, Israel, Egypt and Jordan. This newly created regional ministers' forum, to be known as the Middle East 4, will hold its first annual meeting in Canada in the late fall.
Palestinian Legislative Council elections (up to $1.2 million): Canada will deploy a 50-member independent delegation to observe the Palestinian Legislative Council elections. The election observers will be sent through the Canada Corps program. Canada will also send, through Elections Canada, an expert to provide technical assistance to the Palestinian Central Election Commission for elections.
Housing support (up to $5 million): Canada will support an initiative to rehabilitate infrastructure and housing, and to generate employment in the West Bank and Gaza. The initiative will utilize Canadian expertise in this sector, including through CMHC, and will work in cooperation with well-established multilateral agencies in the region.
A capacity-building fund (up to $500,000): Canada will provide technical assistance to the PA through this fund, which could include, for example, facilitation of border management with its potentially positive cross-cutting impact on security and trade. The Canadian Border Services Agency will assist in the implementation of initiatives to be pursued under this fund.
Scholarship fund for Palestinian refugee women in Lebanon ($500,000): Canada will provide an additional $500,000 contribution to this $1-million project, which helps Palestinian refugee women in Lebanon pursue undergraduate university degrees. To date, 130 students have been awarded scholarships. The scholarship fund seeks to help Palestinian women develop professional skills so that they can become income-earners and play a leadership role in the Palestinian community.
Security: Canada is deploying an additional four officers to the Multinational Force and Observers in Egypt's Sinai Peninsula, bringing the total contingent to 32.