Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Canada's Harper steers G8 to Israel-friendlier stance

From Winnipeg Free Press, 31 May 2011, by: Samuel Segev:

TEL AVIV -- The new Canadian government of Stephen Harper is emerging as one of the friendliest countries to Israel in the Western world.

This new direction became apparent in the last G8 summit, which ended on Saturday in Deauville, France. When discussing the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Britain and France introduced a draft resolution supporting U.S. President Barack Obama's speeches of May 26 and May 28, but singling out the future borders between Israel and Palestine. In his speeches, Obama said that these borders should be based on the 1967 ceasefire lines "with mutually agreed swaps."

For a resolution to be binding by the G8 it has to be accepted unanimously.

After an urgent telephone conversation with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Harper objected to the British-French draft resolution. He argued that Obama's speeches included other elements, such as the Jewishness of Israel; that the future Palestinian state should be non-militarized and that Hamas cannot be a partner for peace, unless it accepts the Quartet's three conditions -- renounce violence, recognize Israel's right to exist and accept all previous agreements between Israel and the Palestinian Authority.

If the issue of the borders is to be included, then all the other elements in Mr. Obama's speech should be also included, he argued.

After long deliberations, Harper's position was accepted. The final communique endorsed "Obama's vision" and called on both parties to resume their negotiations.

Netanyahu phoned Harper to thank him for his success.

A few days later came another Canadian friendly gesture. One year after the bloody incident with peace activists on board of the Turkish ship Mavi Marmara, Turkish activists are planning a larger naval convoy to Gaza, this time including Canadian activists. Israel considers this convoy "totally unnecessary." Food and medicines are being supplied to Gaza by Israel on a daily basis. With the opening of the Egyptian crossing to Rafah, there is no more blockade.

In a statement on the weekend, Foreign Minister John Baird urged Canadian activists to use "established channels" to bring aid to Gaza. Baird warned against participation in the Turkish flotilla, calling it a "provocation." ....
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