Canadian official slammed for praising Palestinian criminal

Jibril Rajoub, who has a well-documented history of inciting violence towards Israel, was mentioned in a since-deleted Twitter post

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Canada’s representative to the Palestinian Authority is being criticized for apparently praising Palestinian official and convicted criminal Jibril Rajoub in a tweet that has since been deleted.

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On Thursday, Robin Wettlaufer’s office sent out a tweet following a recent encounter with Rajoub. Both were seen sitting on chairs with a Palestinian flag between them and a large photo of a young Yasser Arafat – former leader of the Palestinian Authority – in the background.

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The text accompanying the photo describes a “fascinating discussion” on regional politics and goes on to describe Rajoub as a “great friend of Canada”.

The original tweet has since been deleted, but several screenshots have been circulating on social media and sparking outrage among liberal and conservative Jewish lawmakers.

Liberal MPs Ya’ara Saks and Anthony Housefather released a statement saying they “vehemently oppose” Rajoub being portrayed as a friend of Canada.

“He has been charged with advocating terrorism and is guilty of inciting hatred and violence against Israelis by politicizing sport. He does not share our values ​​as Canadians,” they wrote on Twitter.

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Conservative MP Melissa Lantsman asked Foreign Minister Melanie Joly to respond.

“Jibril Rajoub was found guilty of having committed several terrorist attacks. He uses sport to incite hatred, FIFA agrees. A great friend? Do you want to denounce this? ” she asked.

Rajoub, president of the Palestinian Olympic Committee and former head of the Palestinian Preventive Security Force, has a well-documented history of inciting violence against Israel.

He was sentenced to life in prison in 1970 after being found guilty of throwing a grenade at the Israel Defense Forces, but was released 15 years later in a prisoner exchange. He was arrested again a few times later for his militant activities before becoming Arafat’s national security adviser.

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In 2013, Rajoub told Hezbollah-affiliated TV channel Al Mayadeen that the Palestinian Authority would use nuclear weapons against Israel if it possessed them.

He said, according to a translation provided by Palestinian Media Watch, “I swear if we had had a nuclear weapon, we would have used it this morning.”

In 2018, he was suspended and fined by FIFA’s Disciplinary Board for inciting hatred and violence by calling on football fans to burn shirts and photos of Argentine footballer Lionel Messi before the game. expected of his national team in a stadium in Jerusalem.

“Jibril Rajoub’s record speaks for itself, and he is certainly no friend of Canada,” said Shimon Koffler Fogel, president and CEO of the Center for Israel and Jewish Affairs (CIJA).

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This sentiment was echoed by Marvin Rotrand, National Director of the League for Human Rights of B’nai Brith Canada, who said he assumed the quick deletion of the problematic tweet “indicates someone spotted it. and alerted (Robin Wettlaufer) to Mr. Rajoub’s story.”

Canada’s representative in Palestine is an experienced diplomat with many years in the region.

Wettlaufer previously served as Canada’s Special Representative and Chief Political Affairs Officer for Syria from 2014 to 2019. Previously, she worked as Desk Officer for Iraq, Conflict Prevention Advisor for the G8 Foreign Ministers Process and Senior Advisor for the Darfur Peace Process in Sudan.

She is currently completing her second posting in Ramallah, having served there from 2005 to 2008.

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Rotrand said Wettlaufer’s meeting with Rajoub was “a lack of judgment for a Canadian representative who has a very, very good record and a very solid history.”

“She is not a rookie, she has 24 years of experience in foreign affairs and she has had difficult assignments,” he said.

CIJA added that they were “deeply troubled” by Wettlaufer’s “poor judgment” in agreeing to meet with Rajoub.

However, this is not the first time that the representative of Canada has met the controversial figure. Wettlaufer also met with Rajoub in early July, according to a tweet still available on Friday.

Global Affairs told the National Post that they were “aware of the distress of Canadians over the content of the tweet” calling Rajoub a “great friend of Canada” and that it was “removed accordingly”.

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“Canada is a staunch friend and ally of Israel and a friend of the Palestinian people,” said Patricia Skinner, spokesperson for Global Affairs, in a written statement.

“Canadian diplomats engage frequently with representatives of the Palestinian Authority, the Israeli government and members of civil society on a wide range of diplomatic, trade, security, development and humanitarian issues.

Skinner added that Canada is “committed to the goal of a comprehensive, just and lasting peace in the Middle East, including the establishment of a Palestinian state living side by side in peace and security with Israel” and that “terrorism must be rejected as a means to achieve political ends”.

Wettlaufer is nearing the end of his three-year term. Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh bid farewell to her in a tweet and said she had “made strenuous efforts” to enhance cooperation and strengthen bilateral relations.

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