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Canadian Ministers Unconcerned About Threats from Arabs over Moving Embassy to Jerusalem

Finance Minister John Crosby said today that “Canadians should not Jose sleep over the statement put out by the Arab League Monetary Fund in Abu Dahbi threatening to suspend any financial transactions and boycott Canadian banking and financial institutions. ” He was referring to a report from Bahrain today that the Arab Monetary Fund on Arab League agency based in Abu Dahbi, has suspended all financial dealings with Canada to protest the Canadian government’s plans to move its embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

Crosby said that he has asked the Arab countries for clarification and that he would abstain from any further comments at the moment. He announced, however, that the Inner Cabinet will discuss the matter at its meeting later today.

Meanwhile, Roland Frazee, president of the Royal Bank of Canada, Canada’s largest bank, told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency today that “I have never heard of the Arab Monetary Fund.” The report from Bahrain said that the AMF has already withdrawn its funds deposited with Canadian banks and has banned all further transactions with them as of today.

In an earlier comment, Ron Attey, Minister of Employment and Immigration, said that “Arab officials may cry about it, but will not carry out threats to retaliate against Canada” for the promised move of the embassy. The Clark government expected some reaction to the proposal because of the recent Arab criticism of an anti-boycott law passed by the Ontario provincial government, he said in radio interview this week.

“The same sort of threats were made by Arab ambassadors to Ontario businesses to the effect that all sorts of things would be cut off,” Attey said. “Ontario went ahead and as a matter of principle, enacted the anti-boycott law and the threats never materialized.” Attey, a Toronto lawyer, is chiefly responsible for drafting Prime Minister Clark’s election promise. Attey also engineered the anti-boycott bill adopted by the Ontario legislature.

Attey said that despite the threats, Clark still plans the embassy transfer but, “It is not going to be moved tomorrow, or next week.” He added that it will be done over a reasonable course of time and as circumstances permit. He stressed that when the move is made, the government will be a step closer towards reaching a “recognition that in Jerusalem there are interests of importance not only to Christians and Jews, but also to Moslems.” Attey called the promise of moving the embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem “a move in the functional internationalization of the Holy Places.”

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