Palestinians throw eggs at Canadian envoy John Baird, escalating diplomatic spat

Members of Palestinian security forces and a policeman hold back a protester after eggs were thrown at Canada's Foreign Minister John Baird, during his visit to the West Bank city of Ramallah on Jan 18, 2015. Palestinian protesters heckled and t
Members of Palestinian security forces and a policeman hold back a protester after eggs were thrown at Canada's Foreign Minister John Baird, during his visit to the West Bank city of Ramallah on Jan 18, 2015. Palestinian protesters heckled and threw eggs at Mr Baird during the visit, denouncing Ottawa's diplomatic support for Israel. -- PHOTO: REUTERS

RAMALLAH (Reuters) - Palestinian protesters heckled and threw eggs at Canadian Foreign Minister John Baird during a visit to the occupied West Bank on Sunday, denouncing Ottawa's diplomatic support for Israel.

Baird was not hit, but one of the eggs smacked onto the roof of his car after a meeting with his Palestinian counterpart at the Foreign Ministry in Ramallah.

Several dozen Palestinian special forces armed with machine guns and riot gear made no effort to confront the egg-throwers among a crowd of about 100 protesters. "You're not welcome," the demonstrators shouted at Baird.

Canada was among a handful of countries that voted against Palestinians' successful bid to become a non-member state at the United Nations General Assembly in 2012. This month, Baird called a Palestinian move to join the International Criminal Court "concerning and dangerous".

Amid bouts of failed peace talks with Israel, Palestinians have opted to confront Israel in international bodies and the conservative government of Prime Minister Stephen Harper has become one of the most outspoken critics of the strategy.

In a statement on Sunday, top Palestinian peace negotiator Saeb Erekat demanded an apology from Baird for visiting Israeli officials in occupied East Jerusalem last year.

Palestinians seek East Jerusalem, which Israel captured along with the West Bank and Gaza Strip in a 1967 war, as the capital of a future state. Israel regards all of Jerusalem as its capital, a claim that has not won international recognition.

"We regret the Canadian government's decision to stand on the wrong side of history by blindly supporting the Israeli occupation and its apartheid policies," Erekat said.

Most countries deem Israeli settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem as illegal. Israel pulled troops and settlers out of the Gaza Strip in 2005.