May 15, 2018 1:01 pm
Updated: May 16, 2018 3:04 pm

Was Canada invited to U.S. embassy opening in Jerusalem? Depends who you ask

In this photo released by the Jerusalem Municipality, Jerusalem mayor Nir Barkat poses with a new road sign to the new U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem, Monday, May 7, 2018.

(Jerusalem Municipality via AP)
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EDITOR’S NOTE: This story has been updated to reflect additional comments provided by the Israeli embassy in Ottawa saying that Canadian representatives in Israel were issued an invitation to a Jerusalem Day ceremony that took place on Sunday, not the opening of the U.S. embassy on Monday as a spokesperson at the Israeli embassy had previously said.

Canada either was — or was not — invited to the big ceremony in Jerusalem earlier this week.

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It seems Canadian diplomats were invited to some sort of ceremony in Jerusalem. The problem is there is a bit of confusion about which event members from Canada’s diplomatic mission were actually invited to attend.

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On Monday, American officials marked the opening of the U.S. embassy in Jerusalem, which had been relocated from Tel Aviv.

The latter is where most foreign missions in the country are based because of ongoing disputes about the status of parts of Jerusalem by Palestinians, but U.S. President Donald Trump announced the move in December as part of an American decision to recognize the contested city as the capital of Israel.

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Global News sent three emails to officials at the Israeli embassy in Ottawa as well as the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs after Al Jazeera published a report saying that “Israel’s foreign ministry said all 86 countries with diplomatic missions in Israel were invited to the embassy opening, and 33 confirmed attendance.

READ MORE: US opens embassy in Jerusalem: Which countries attended? 

The emails specifically asked for confirmation of that quote that “all 86 countries with diplomatic missions in Israel were invited to the embassy opening, and 32 confirmed attendance.”

“I can confirm that all embassies and missions in Israel, including the Canadian embassy, were invited,” a spokesperson at the Israeli embassy in Ottawa responded in an email at 11:54 AM Tuesday.

However, a spokesperson for Global Affairs Canada said Canada was not invited to the embassy opening. Instead, a Canadian official said representatives of the embassy were actually invited to a Jerusalem Day event the day prior — which Canada has not historically attended.

After receiving that comment from Global Affairs Canada, Global News went back to the Israeli embassy asking to clarify that the invitation issued to Canada was specifically for the opening ceremony and not the Jerusalem Day celebration..

“Just to clarify, this invitation was for the actual ceremony of the opening?” Global News asked the embassy. “I am hearing it was for the Jerusalem Day event the evening prior, and want to make sure I have my facts straight.”

“Yes, according to my understanding it was for the Embassy opening ceremony,” the spokesperson wrote back at 12:34 PM Tuesday.

“I checked with a spokesperson from Jerusalem specifically regarding the embassy opening ceremony so I don’t think he would have confused it with the Jerusalem Day event.”

Following publication, another spokesperson from the embassy told Global News at 9:38 PM Tuesday the invitation was not for the opening ceremony.

“Our comment that all embassies were invited, was regarding the event at the Israeli Ministry of foreign affairs [sic] on Sunday, which is in fact the event to which the Ministry was in charge of the organization and invitations,” wrote that spokesperson in a separate email.

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More than 50 people have been killed in clashes in the Gaza Strip over the last two days. Roughly 2,700 more were injured.

The renewed unrest was an effort to break a border blockade on the region imposed by Israel in a conflict coinciding with the opening of the U.S. embassy.

Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland tweeted concerns about the violence on Monday.

However, NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh called on the government to do more.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has said there are no plans to move the Canadian embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

Canada also abstained from a vote at the United Nations in December that largely criticized the U.S. for its decision to move its embassy.

Trudeau said at the time was Canada made the call to abstain in order to try to stay above “political games.”

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