T. Belman. Before leaving Canada, I used to bump into Peter Kent at all the pro-Israel events we would attend and he came to all of them. We talked about Israel all the time and I can assure you he is a friend. These chats continued after he won a seat in Parliament and went on to become a Minister.
By Rhonda Spivak, WinnipegJewishReviewOctober 19, 2010
Thornhill MP Peter Kent, Canadian Minister of State of Foreign Affairs (Americas), who was recently in Israel on an eight-day mission, says when he met with Palestinian Authority Foreign Minister al -Malki in Ramallah he raised the issue of official PA incitement and honouring of terrorists.
In a one on one interview when he was recently in Winnipeg on October 8, Kent told the Winnipeg Jewish Review he “made the point very strongly’ to Minister Al Malki that “Palestinian Authority official media continues to incite and encourage martyrdom and terrorism and deny the right of Israel to exist.”
Kent said “I made a protest to him [Foreign Minister al- Malki] about the naming of squares and streets in honour of martyrs and said that the largest single challenge to peace is the acceptance of Israel, the recognition of Israel and the willingness to exist side by side in peace with Israel that has security and guarantees of non aggression…He listened. He accepted that…’
In the interview, this reporter showed Kent a photo that was taken by on her recent visit this summer to Deheishe Refugee Camp in Bethlehem, in the Palestinian Authority. Near the entrance of the refugee camp there is a very large mural on a school run by UNRWA [United Nations Relief and Works Agency] of an 18 year old female suicide bomber, Ayat al-Akhras, a graduate of the UNWRA school, who blew herself up at a Jerusalem supermarket in 2002, murdering two Israelis.
On seeing the photo, Kent said:”.. As you know, the official media of the Palestinian Authority has many leaders and the sorts of folks putting up this … inciteful terororist art…[seen in the photo] are obviously not listening to the words that President Abbas spoke in Washington [about ending incitement] or that Foreign Minister Al Malki spoke to me in Ramallah.”
Kent continued,“ I made the point to Foreign Minister Al Malki that they[the PA] need to be consistent with the domestic population and… not just [be] sending two messages, one to the international community and one domestically…I made that clear.”
On the subject of UNWRA employees, Kent said on his visit he spoke with UNWRA officials and employees of NGO’s he had contact with, “reminding them…that they shouldn’t take sides [in the conflict] first of all… and that they shouldn’t take sides with groups that encourage terror.”
Prior to entering politics, Kent was a Deputy Editor of Global Television News, a Canadian Network. He has previously worked as a news editor, producer, foreign correspondent and news anchorman on Canadian and American television networks.
He told the Winnipeg Jewish Review, “I am a fan of the Palestinian Media Watch [http://www.palwatch.org] … I think that it [Palestinian Media Watch] shows the duplicity of the messages [between what the PA tells the international community and their own domestic community].”
Regarding media bias, Kent, who was the said, “I’m a former director of Honest Reporting Canada …”It’s interesting how sometimes the Canadian media sometimes innocently and also other times seems to show deliberate bias in the way they cover the Middle East and developments in the Middle East.’
CANADA’S ROLE IN TRAINING PA SECURITY FORCES –PREPARING FOR EVENTUAL PALESTINIAN STATE
Kent, who was in Israel during the opening of the latest peace talks in Washington [which have since been suspended], told the Winnipeg Jewish Review that when he was in Ramallah he was “very delighted to see the leadership that Canada is playing with regards to institution building particularly in the areas of justice and in helping to create and train the new national security police force…Some 300 million dollars were dedicated to that and we are well into that program.”
Kent noted that while Canada is participating with the United States the United Kingdom and other in training the PA security force, Canada has “the lead presence in terms of total [number of] personnel on the ground in the Palestinian Authority”
“I visited …the [first] new joint operations centre, the first one actually that has been set up…in Ramallah but eventually there will be in each of the major districts .. a joint operation centre which will coordinate security response to threats and incidents in the West Bank and with Israel and Israeli security forces. The Israeli government for its part has also expressed approval of the way this work is going.
“Basically what we’re doing is trying to prepare the Palestinian Authority for that day, however long off it may seem- however illusive the eventual peace agreement might seem- to help prepare their institutions, to govern a democratic secure neighborly state with Israel….There’s a long way to go but we were very encouraged.”
Kent’s visit also coincided with the two terror attacks in the West Bank
He said, “By all accounts, “from the Canadians on the ground and from the Palestinian Authority officers and from the Israelis there was an indication that there was co-ordination. The attacks were tragic but I made the point that Canada recognized that the Terror attacks claimed by Hamas are as much of an attack on the peace seeking people of the Palestinian Authority as against the Israeli victims.”
When questioned by the Winnipeg Jewish Review about the PA’s true commitment to reigning in terror , given their ongoing daily negotiations to try to reconcile with the terrorist group Hamas and form a unity Palestinian government, Kent responded, “It’s a big challenge.”
He continued, “ Palestinians are divided at the moment. Hamas in the West Bank is a counter force to the peace talks…doesn’t want the peace talks to go ahead… Despite the reasons for skepticism, we can’t just walk away from it [the peace talks…]… We’re aware of the realities. We are aware of the challenges and that unfilled expectations this time will only delay the ultimate goal and make it more difficult the next time…But we can’t not try. “
Kent said that Canada is supportive of peace talks and “We caution both sides to avoid unilateral actions that will threaten the direct talks.” He said he told Al Malki, who raised the issue of Israeli settlements, that that issue is “to be resolved by negotiation.”
CANADA AND ISRAEL’S SHARED INTEREST IN LATIN AMERICA