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Canada won't criticize Israel

OTTAWA -- Canada stood apart Monday from some major allies, the U.S. included, in refusing to condemn Israeli plans for new settlements in areas claimed by the Palestinians.

On Friday, Israel announced plans to build 3,000 settler homes in the West Bank and east Jerusalem to punish the Palestinians for winning greater recognition at the United Nations General Assembly the previous day.

The United States, which joined with Canada, Israel and six other countries in opposing the Palestinian move at the UN, broke ranks Monday to directly criticize Israel. The White House and State Department said the Israeli announcement would hinder the resumption of peace talks.

In addition, five European countries called in Israeli ambassadors on Monday to protest the new settlement plan. Germany, meanwhile, said Monday it took a "very negative view" of the settlement announcement.

Previously, the UN warned the move could be an "almost fatal blow" to the peace process.

The spokesman for Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird stuck Monday to the same response line: "Unilateral actions on either side do not advance the peace process."

Stephen Harper's spokesman refused to say whether the prime minister raised the question of the new settlement construction when he spoke Saturday by telephone with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Grieving father struggles for answers

MONTREAL -- A Quebec father of three young children was struggling Monday to make sense of the tragic death of his three children.

The children -- Lorelie and Anais, aged five and two, and their-four year-old brother Loic -- were found dead the previous day after a 911 call from their mother's home in Drummondville, a town about an hour outside Montreal.

Patrick Desautels said the deaths left him speechless. He asked journalists to allow the family to grieve in peace.

"We are currently together as a family and this tragedy leaves us without words," the grief-stricken father wrote in a statement. "The police investigation will tell us more about the circumstances of the tragedy. What has taken place is inexplicable."

Desautels added that he loved his children and will miss them for the rest of his life.

The circumstances surrounding their deaths remained mysterious Monday. Quebec provincial police said they hoped that the mother of the three children -- Desautels' ex-wife -- could deliver some answers.

Soldier on trial still awaits fate

CALGARY -- A fourth day of deliberations will be required to determine the fate of a Calgary reservist charged following a fatal training mishap in Afghanistan in 2010.

Maj. Darryl Watts, 44, faces six charges, including manslaughter, in the death of Cpl. Josh Baker and injuries to four other soldiers on a firing range north of Kandahar city in February 2010.

Baker died when a Claymore anti-personnel mine, packed with 700 steel balls, peppered his platoon during a training exercise.

The five-member panel of senior military members still had not come to a conclusion when it adjourned Monday afternoon.

-- The Canadian Press

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition December 4, 2012 A9

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