Saturday, May 28, 2011

Canadian Prime Minister reportedly responsible for watering down G8 resolution on Israel

This blogger is no fan of Prime Minister Stephen Harper and his government, but I agree with their pro-Israel position. As reported by Peter O’Neil of Postmedia News on May 27, 2011:

DEAUVILLE, France — Prime Minister Stephen Harper praised a G8 resolution on the Middle East peace process Friday that, according to a media report, was watered down at his request to avoid a reference that has infuriated Israel...

... Reuters cited diplomatic sources saying that Harper insisted there be no reference to Israel's borders before 1967, when it seized the West Bank and Gaza from Jordan and Egypt, respectively, during the Six Day War.

U.S. President Barack Obama's recent call for negotiations with the Palestinians to be based on those prewar lines has infuriated Israel, even though the U.S. position is that negotiations will then include "land swaps."

"The Canadians were really very adamant, even though Obama expressly referred to 1967 borders in his speech last week," a European diplomat told the news agency.

Harper — seen internationally as one of Israel's most fervent supporters — neither confirmed nor denied the report when asked twice about it by Canadian reporters.

"We are pleased that the statement that came out of the G8 was a balanced statement," Harper said.

According to the Jerusalem Post, Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman called his Canadian counterpart John Baird Friday and thanked him and Harper for their pro-Israel stance at the G8 summit. Lieberman said during the conversation that "Canada is a true friend of Israel."

The resolution expressed "strong support" for Obama's vision set out in the speech, and called for a new round of negotiations.

"We are convinced that the historic changes throughout the region make the solution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict through negotiations more important, not less," the G8 said.

Harper said he has no problem with Obama's speech, saying it had to be considered in its "entirety." He noted that Obama supported the creation of a demilitarized Palestinian state and a Jewish state, the latter of which would rule out the longstanding Palestinian demand that refugees and their families living outside Israel have the right to return.

Sarkozy, meanwhile, told reporters he strongly supported Obama's "courageous" focus on the 1967 borders.

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