Shalom Life | July 01, 2014

Netanyahu Warmly Greets ‘Best Friend’ Stephen Harper

After arriving in Israel yesterday, the Canadian Prime Minister has been showed with praise from Israeli legislators and officials alike, particularly, from his good friend Benjamin Netanyahu

By: Zak Edwards

Published: January 20th, 2014 in News » Israel

Netanyahu Warmly Greets 'Best Friend' Stephen Harper

Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper landed at Israel’s Ben-Gurion International Airport Sunday, accompanied by an all-star Canadian delegation. He will be the first Canadian Prime Minister to speak directly to the Knesset.

Arriving with the largest entourage of his career, Harper was warmly greeted by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. “Stephen, you are a great friend to Israel and the Jewish people,” Netanyahu said in his welcoming speech yesterday. “I’m not just saying that. I mean that deeply from the bottom of my heart and I speak for all the people of Israel.”

Harper’s positive relationship with Israel, including the staunch defense against growing anti-Semitism, is well documented.

The Israeli Prime Minister also praised Harper’s political stances, saying “This world is often cynical and hypocritical and you have shown great moral leadership. You know that there cannot be any politically correct double talk, but only unequivocal condemnation and united international actions.”

Appropriately, Harper was straightforward with an Israeli reporter who questioned him about Israeli settlements in occupied lands. “Any attempt to have me, while in the Middle East, single out Israel for criticism, I will not do,” he said.

Harper’s primary purpose in Israel, according to CBC’s Terry Milewski from Jerusalem, is the “expansion of the existing free trade agreement with Israel, also a transport agreement and funding for a research institution.” To do this, Harper has amassed the single largest delegation he has ever put together: an estimated 250 business leaders and politicians, including six cabinet ministers, lobbyists, his usual advisers, and even 21 rabbis have joined him on the trip.

Harper will also be visiting Palestinian representatives during his trip in what is expected to be a tense meeting. Canada rejected the Palestinian Authority’s bid for UN recognition last year and changed their aid packages.

The Globe and Mail has reported that “Ottawa provided a $300-million aid package to Palestinians between 2008 and 2013, or roughly $60-million per year. That money ran out last April, but no new broad multiyear package replaced it.” It was announced today that the Harper Government has pledged money in separate packages: “$30-million committed last year, and another $66-million, to be spread over three to five years.”

Harper had few words to say to Netanyahu after his welcoming speech, just saying he and his wife are delighted to be in Israel and will have more to say later in the week.

Harper’s seven day trip to the Middle East will also travel to Jordan, where Harper is expected to visit a Syrian refugee camp and meet with King Abdullah II.
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