Protestors threw shoes and eggs at Canadian Foreign Minister John Baird outside the Palestinian Foreign Ministry on Sunday, amid a growing war of words between him and top PLO official Saeb Erekat.
Dozens of Palestinians attacked the foreign minister’s vehicle as it exited the foreign ministry, located in al-Bireh near Ramallah, after he finished a meeting with his Palestinian counterpart Riyad al-Maliki.
The protest was organized by the youth department of the Fatah movement to express opposition to the pro-Israeli political positions expressed by successive Canadian governments in recent years.
The most recent action taken by the Canadian government that has outraged the Palestinian public was a vote against a bid at the United Nations Security Council seeking to end the Israeli occupation of the Palestinian territories by 2017.
In recent weeks, foreign minister Baird has also demanded top PLO official Erekat apologize for likening Israel to the Islamic State group in statements made in early January.
“There is no difference between the terrorism practiced by the group led by (IS leader) Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi and Israel’s terrorism,” he said at the time. “Ending settlement activities is a prerequisite for eliminating terrorism.”
Baird condemned the statements, saying that they undermined efforts to fight the IS group that has spread through Iraq and Syria in recent years.
Erekat, however, on Friday responded to demands for the apology in a strongly-worded opinion piece entitled, “It is John Baird who needs to apologize to the Palestinian people” published in The Globe and Mail, a top Canadian newspaper.
“After spending the past few years listening to Mr. Baird going out of his way to legitimize the banality and brutality of a 50-year-old Israeli occupation, I tell Mr. Baird: enough,” he said in the piece.
“If there is anyone that has to apologize, it is Mr. Baird himself. He should first apologize to his own citizenry, many of whom are God-loving Jews, Christians and Muslims who would never condone nor cheer for an Israeli government that stretches support to Israeli settlers who attack churches and mosques.”
He also reiterated his perceived similarities between Israel and the IS group, based on their disregard for human life and religion.
“Those who actively burn mosques and churches in Palestine, and campaign to destroy the Al Aqsa Mosque, are no less terrorists than those who kicked the Christians out of Mosul.”
“But Canada, instead of supporting the application of international law, has decided to encourage Israel to continue with its crimes. As I stated in a letter to Mr. Baird after his meeting in Occupied East Jerusalem: ‘Canada’s actions are tantamount to complicity in ongoing Israeli violations of the international laws of war.'”