Canada helps oust Hamas rep from UN event

John Baird speaking while on a diplomatic mission to Israel earlier this year

Canada helped block a representative of Hamas from attending a United Nations Human Rights Council meeting in Geneva this week.

Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird issued a statement on the matter March 20, after hearing that Ismail al-Ashqar, a member of Hamas’ legislative council, had been scheduled to speak at the UN event.

Israel filed a complaint with the UN on March 19 protesting al-Ashqar’s presence, citing Hamas’s repeated calls for violent conflict and terrorism against Israelis.

Following the complaint, the UN chief in Geneva barred al-Ashqar from entering the Human Rights Council hall, and he was asked to leave the UN compound in Geneva.

Hamas is listed as a terrorist organization in Canada.

Baird called Hamas’ presence at the UNHRC “completely outrageous” and said he’d instructed Canada’s delegation to “make our opposition known at the highest levels and in the strongest of terms. I also instructed the Canadian delegation not to attend any meeting or function where this individual was or might be present.”

He added: “Legitimizing Hamas in any way, shape or form at a UN event is, quite simply, counter to the spirit, purposes and principles of the Charter of the United Nations.”

On March 19, Israeli Ambassador Aharon Leshno-Yaar, the country’s permanent representative at the UN in Geneva, wrote to UN officials that al-Ashqar is known to have preached for terror attacks against Israel.

“The UN is part of the Quartet, which is asking all sides in the Middle East to denounce terror and commit to agreements signed between Israel and the Palestinian Authority,” he wrote. “It is unacceptable that a representative of a terrorist organization will appear in a UN-sponsored framework.”

With files from Ha’aretz