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Canadian FM Calls to Demilitarize Palestinian Authority, Gaza

John Baird calls on Abbas to take up the responsibility he claimed in forming unity government, control Gaza and return teens.
By Ari Yashar
First Publish: 6/20/2014, 9:08 AM

Canada's Foreign Minister John Baird
Canada's Foreign Minister John Baird
Reuters

Canadian Foreign Minister John Baird called on Thursday for the Palestinian Authority (PA areas of Judea-Samaria) and Gaza to be demilitarized.

Writing in an op-ed in the Canadian The Globe and Mail, Baird noted that the day after the "shocking" kidnapping of three Israeli teens last week, Gaza terrorists fired rockets at Israel, hitting "an area of southern Israel no bigger than the Greater Toronto Area."

While lamenting that such attacks have become routine and ignored by the world at large, Baird commented "what should distinguish these latest attacks is that they have happened under the watch of a new Palestinian government that was announced two weeks ago."

In forming the new Fatah-Hamas unity government, Baird reminded that Palestinian Authority (PA) Chairman Mahmoud Abbas insisted it would be controlled by him, and be based on what he called "the four Palestinian principles": recognizing Israel, recognizing the terms of international agreements, and the explicit rejection of violence and terrorism.

"With that reassertion of authority must come a reapplication of responsibility – responsibility to uphold the Quartet principles in Gaza," Baird said, saying Abbas must now prove his commitment to those principles by asserting authority over Gaza and stopping the attacks.

Baird remarked that as of now, "Hamas remains the only real authority in Gaza. Their police remain on its streets, and their bureaucrats and apparatchiks continue to control people’s lives." Unity government Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah admitted as much in an interview last Thursday, when he acknowledged his government has no authority in Gaza.

The Canadian foreign minister presented Abbas with three challenges to show he meant what he said about principles and control in forming the government.

First, Baird asserts Abbas must "complete the disarmament of Hamas and other Palestinian terrorist groups operating in Gaza, including the Iranian proxy Palestinian Islamic Jihad." This move must include freeing the three abducted youths, says Baird.

Next, Baird called for a "complete cessation of the production and smuggling of weapons and materials that enable terrorist groups to both acquire and make rockets."

In a final step, the "Palestinian Authority’s security apparatus must assume immediate and total control of Gaza and the Rafah border crossing." Indeed, Egypt has offered to give the unity government control over the crossing into Sinai if it can control Hamas.

Casting doubt as to whether Abbas intends to pick up the gauntlet thrown down by Baird are statements by Hamas officials, who revealed last Sunday that in private meetings with Hamas, Abbas said his public statements about the unity government "are meant to trick the Americans."