Canadian Foreign Minister, Marc Garneau, on Monday, concluded an official visit to the West Bank, where he also met with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, Prime Minister Muhammad Shtayyeh, and Minister of Foreign Affairs and Expatriates Dr. Riad Malki.
During these meetings, the Minister conveyed that Canada is a firm supporter of the Palestinian people and reaffirmed Canada’s longstanding commitment to the goal of a comprehensive, just, and lasting peace in the Middle East. In recognition of the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination, Canada continues to work and engage diplomatically with regional partners and the international community to help support efforts toward sustainable peace and security, deliver humanitarian assistance, and advance human rights and gender equality, Global Affairs said in a statement.
The Minister conveyed Canada’s disappointment with the decision to postpone Palestinian elections and urged the officials to hold them as soon as possible.
The Minister placed particular emphasis on helping the most vulnerable Palestinians and the meaningful participation of women and youth in peace and security efforts. In this regard, the Minister announced a commitment of up to $2 million to support grassroots women peacebuilders and women-led civil society organizations working in conflict prevention, as well as up to $1 million to support initiatives that promote democratic practices and foster the participation of women and youth in decision-making processes. These funds are drawn from the $25 million Prime Minister Trudeau announced in May to support Palestinian civilians.
Garneau engaged in a roundtable discussion with Gaza-based humanitarian workers. Moderated by Lynn Hastings, UN Deputy Special Coordinator, Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator for the Occupied Palestinian Territories, the roundtable presented an opportunity to discuss ongoing recovery and reconstruction efforts in Gaza and convey Canada’s appreciation for their life-saving work.
Minister Garneau also visited the Techno Park at Birzeit University to observe the impact of a $9 million Canadian investment in Cowater International’s Generating Revenue Opportunities for Women and Youth project, established to enhance economic opportunities for entrepreneurs and increase prosperity for low-income women and youth in the West Bank. During the visit, Palestinian engineers and entrepreneurs delivered presentations on their innovative renewable energy initiatives, which have been selected for seed funding and business incubation services by the Flow Accelerator.
Minister Garneau also met with Palestinian community leaders to hear directly from them on the Palestinian-Israeli peace efforts and to discuss democratic engagement. He also underscored the importance of upholding inclusive democratic processes and human rights, including freedom of expression and peaceful assembly. He raised particular concerns regarding attacks on journalists and women. In addressing the death of Palestinian political activist Nizar Banat, the Minister called for transparency, accountability, and respect for the rule of law.
During his visit, Minister Garneau restated Canada’s long-standing position and concerns that the continued expansion of settlements, demolitions, and evictions constitute a serious obstacle to achieving peace and the need for these activities to cease. The Minister also restated Canada’s commitment to a two-state solution, with Palestinian and Israeli peoples living side-by-side in peace and security and with their human rights fully respected.