John Baird unfazed by criticism after meeting with Israelis in East Jerusalem

OTTAWA – Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird says he did not cross any sort of line by holding a meeting with Israel’s justice minister in her East Jerusalem office.

Baird met Tuesday with Israeli Justice Minister Tzipi Livni across the Green Line in disputed territory, which the Palestinians and the United Nations consider occupied land.

Baird says where he has coffee with someone is “irrelevant” to the larger discussion of Middle East peace and does not signal a shift in Canadian foreign policy.

Livni is the Israeli chief negotiator with the Palestinians.

Previous Canadian government ministers have avoided crossing into East Jerusalem with Israeli officials as a matter of principle and practice.

A spokesperson for the Palestine Liberation Organization is quoted in published reports as saying Baird’s actions may have set “a very dangerous precedent.”