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Diplomatic Briefs: Israel seeks return of Filipino workers
Question of the Day
MANILA — Israel’s envoy to Manila has asked the government to lift a ban on the deployment of Filipino workers to Israel following the end of heavy fighting between Israeli and Hamas forces.
Ambassador Menashe Baron said the ban is unnecessary because the situation in Israel is returning to normal after a cease-fire agreement ended eight days of fighting last month.
Mr. Baron said there are more than 40,000 Filipinos in Israel, mostly employed as caregivers, who have access to bunkerlike protection against rocket attacks. There also are about 120 Filipinos in Gaza.
The Philippine Overseas Employment Administration banned the deployment of workers to Israel because of the conflict.
Overseas workers provide one of the largest sources of foreign revenue for the Philippines.
Canada recalls diplomats from Israel, West Bank
TORONTO — Canada’s foreign affairs minister is reviewing his country’s relationship with the Palestinian Authority and temporarily recalling senior diplomats from Israel, the West Bank and the U.N. missions in New York and Geneva to assess the implications of Thursday’s U.N. General Assembly vote to recognize the Palestinians as a nonmember observer state.
John Baird said Friday in a statement that he is deeply disappointed by the U.N. vote, in which Canada joined Israel, the United States and a few other countries in voting “No.”
He said the only way to peace in the Middle East is through negotiations, not what he called unilateral actions.
Recalling the diplomats will “inform Canada’s response” to the vote, he said.
Mr. Baird, whose Conservative government is a staunch ally of Israel, traveled to New York to vote personally against it and gave a speech in which he suggested Canada will take retaliatory measures against the Palestinians.
Mr. Baird didn’t say what Canada would do, but a senior Canadian official said Canada has no intention at this point of cutting off relations or sending Palestinian diplomats home.
The official, who was not authorized to speak publicly, said the government “will be thoughtful and deliberate in taking steps to express our displeasure at this unilateral action.”
U.S. lawmakers have threatened to cut off aid if the Palestinians use their newfound status against Israel. That could be an option for Canada, which has provided about $300 million of aid to the Palestinians over the past five years.
Syria opposition names ‘ambassador’ to Britain
LONDON — The Syrian opposition’s new envoy to Britain is an exiled human rights activist who once represented the Syrian branch of the Muslim Brotherhood in London.
The Syrian National Coalition, formed Nov. 11, announced on its Facebook page last week that Walid Safur, president of the Syrian Commission for Human Rights, will represent it in the British capital.
The 62-year-old former teacher from the central Syrian city of Homs established the human rights commission in 1986. He was imprisoned several times before he fled to London, where he later represented the Muslim Brotherhood.
Last month, British Foreign Secretary William Hague announced that London recognizes the coalition as the sole representative of the Syrian people, following similar moves by France and Turkey.
The coalition also has named an envoy to France.
Calderon heading for Kennedy School
MEXICO CITY — Harvard University says former Mexican President Felipe Calderon will become a fellow at the Kennedy School of Government.
The Kennedy School says Mr. Calderon will be the first participant in a specially endowed fellowship for government leaders who have left office.
It says he will lecture, write, meet with students and professors and develop case studies based on his six-year term in office.
Mr. Calderon’s term was marked by his escalation of a militarized offensive against drug cartels, which unleashed waves of violence that left at least 47,500 Mexicans dead before his administration stopped releasing figures last year.
He also oversaw steady economic growth after a 2009 slump linked to the global economic crash. The Kennedy School praised Mr. Calderon for free-market policies that boosted the economy.
• From wire dispatches and staff reports
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