Palestinian Authority (PA) Chairman Mahmoud Abbas told Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper on Monday that there will be no official Israeli presence in the future Palestinian state, reported the Ma’an news agency.
"We want an independent Palestinian state with Jerusalem as its capital that includes all the lands that were occupied in 1967 and that lives side by side with Israel in security and stability," Abbas said in a joint press conference with Harper in Ramallah.
"Anything else said or interpreted on our behalf matters only to those who interpret it," he added, according to Ma’an, dismissing rumors that he had agreed to concessions in ongoing negotiations with Israel.
Abbas thanked Canada for the aid it sends to Palestinian Arabs and said he hoped for the improvement of bilateral relations between Canada and the PA.
He added that he briefed Harper on peace negotiations and reiterated the PA’s position on a future state.
Abbas’s comments are a continuation of his ongoing policy of announcing that unless all his demands are met, there will never be peace with Israel.
This was also not the first time that he has declared that the future Palestinian state will have no Israeli presence whatsoever.
AFP reported that Harper, for his part, said during the press conference that Canada would provide additional financial support for Abbas’s Ramallah-based government.
"I have the pleasure to announce today that Canada will this year give additional (financial) support for the economic development of the West Bank," Harper told reporters, saying this was key for "social stability" and for advancing peace.
He did not elaborate on details about the aid, noted AFP.
Abbas said he respected the Canadian decision to vote against the PA’s unilateral statehood bid in the UN in late 2012, explaining that Canada is "an independent sovereign state, and it's their right to decide what it wants and to recognize who it wants."
Canada was one of only nine countries to vote against the resolution to recognize “Palestine” as a non-member observer state in the UN. Harper had reportedly personally intervened, unsuccessfully, to pressure Abbas to drop his bid for upgraded status at the UN.
Harper is currently on his first visit to the region since becoming Prime Minister and on Monday he became the first Canadian leader to address the Knesset.
Harper told MKs that Canada would stand with Israel no matter what, “in fire and water."
The bonds between the two countries, said Harper, were “very strong. Our friendship has its roots in history, and is nourished by our shared values,” as well as the trade between the countries.
In addition, he said, Israel and Canada were close military allies, with Israeli-made equipment and technology saving the lives of many Canadian soldiers in Afghanistan, where they are stationed as part of the international peacekeeping force.