The Canadian Immigration Minister, Elinor Caplan, has denied a report from Israel that the Canadian Prime Minister, Jean Chretien, had offered to take in fifteen thousand Palestinian refugees, BBC reported on Thursday.
The Jerusalem Post said the same day that Canada had offered to take in the refugees when a permanent status agreement between Israel and the Palestinian Authority is reached quoting a senior government official.
The official said that Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chretian made this offer to Prime Minister Ehud Barak during his visit here this week.
The daily said Chretian is the first leader to make such a concrete offer, but Barak has said in the past that he hopes the international community will all help with this complicated issue and that many countries will offer haven to the refugees.
Meanwhile, according to the official, Chretian said that Canada, as head of the multilateral working group on refugees, hopes its act will serve as an example to others.
The proposal received immediate thumbs down from the Palestinians.
A top official of the Palestinian Authority responded by making it clear the Palestinians were not interested.
"The Palestinian Authority, the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) and the refugees themselves reject this offer," Palestinian government secretary Ahmed Abdel Rahman told AFP.
"Palestinian refugees still insist on the implementation of UN Resolution 194 on their right of return to their homeland," he said.
"They will not accept any alternative. We reject any kind of settlement of refugees in Arab countries, or in Canada," he added.
Chretien arrived in Beirut from Cairo Thursday, in tour that has already taken him to Israel, the Palestinian territories and Egypt. He will also travel to Jordan, Syria and Saudi Arabia after his Lebanon leg - (Several Sources)
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