Go or no go? Canada rethinking Palestinian aid

John Baird, Canadian minister of foreign affairs. Photo by: Jenny P / CC BY-NC-SA

Canada’s five-year $300-million aid plan to the Palestinian Authority elapsed last week, but Ottawa is still dragging its feet on extending fresh assistance to the troubled territory.

“Canada will see through its development commitments in the West Bank and Gaza,” a spokesperson from the Canadian International Development Agency told Devex when asked if Canada’s policy on Palestine will mean termination of current programs.

The relationship turned sour after the U.N. last year approved the Palestinian Authority’s request to become a non-member observer state of the world body despite vehement opposition from other nations, among them Canada.

Canadian top diplomat John Baird two weeks ago traveled to the Palestine to meet with President Mahmoud Abbas, recently resigned Prime Minister Salam Fayyad and other government officials.

But the dialogue essentially failed as both sides did not see eye to eye on many issues.

“Canada’s disagreement with the unilateral path the Palestinians pursued at the United Nations last fall remains,” Baird said in a statement on April 6.

The Canadian foreign minister added: “Some of the projects are still underway, and I assured Palestinian leaders that we will see our existing commitments through.”

Seventeen CIDA programs are still operational in [the] West Bank and Gaza. These programs bring food to refugees and victims of conflict, give livelihood to farmers, help Palestinian businesses, expand its exports, and strengthen its justice system.

Given the lack of consensus, Ottawa is refraining from making new aid commitments to the Palestinians.

“Future commitments by CIDA for programming in West Bank and Gaza will be dependent on our ability to achieve meaningful results for those most in need and the commitment of Palestinian leaders to prioritize the basic needs of the people,” the Canadian development agency spokesperson said.

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About the author

  • Alliage profile

    John Alliage Morales

    As a staff writer, John Alliage Morales covers the Americas, focusing on the world's top donor hub, Washington, and its aid community - from Capitol Hill to Dupont Circle, Foggy Bottom to the downtown headquarters of USAID, the World Bank and Millennium Challenge Corp. Prior to joining Devex, Alliage worked for a variety of news outlets including GMA, the Philippine TV network, where he conducted interviews, analyzed data and produced in-depth stories on development and other topics.