Visiting Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper announced at a news conference with Palestinian Authority chairman Mahmoud Abbas in Ramallah Monday that his government would extend $66 million in new economic aid to the Palestinians. Both leaders said Canada had not been asked to absorb Palestinian refugees. Abbas said, when the time comes, he believes Canada will play that role. Meanwhile, he said there had been no progress in the peace process. The Canadian prime minister said he supported the two-state solution, but refused to be drawn into criticizing Israel. Canada has provided more than $650 million in development assistance to the West Bank and Gaza Strip.
Later Monday, Harper will make history by becoming the first Canadian prime minister to address the Knesset. He began his first full day in the country with a visit to the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem.