Canadian FM: Israel a Beacon of Light to the World

After meeting with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu earlier in the morning, Canadian Foreign Minister Robert Nicholson on Wednesday met with President Reuven Rivlin in Jerusalem.

"I am delighted to host you here on your first visit to Israel, I know you are dedicated to your work but I hope you have time to see our wonderful country and beautiful capital city of Jerusalem," said Rivlin in greeting the Canadian minister. "You are a dear friend of Israel, and we listen to your comments with respect, even when we disagree."

Speaking about Canada's role in the conflict-embroiled Middle East, Rivlin said, "I know that the Canadian Government follows closely what is happening in our region, in particular in Iran and in Syria; it is a complicated situation in which your enemies' enemy is not always your friend."

Rivlin then turned to peace talks, which the Palestinian Authority (PA) torpedoed last April by sealing a unity deal with the Hamas terrorist organization.

"Sadly, (PA Chairman) Mahmoud Abbas has chosen not to sit at the negotiating table but instead is turning to international institutions to take unilateral steps against Israel. We know that the only way to bring a solution to the conflict and to build mutual trust, is through direct negotiations, and not by one sided, unilateral measures."

Nicholson responded by thanking Rivlin for the reception, saying, "I am delighted to be here, I have taken an interest in Israel since I was a child and always wanted the chance to visit. I am honored to have this opportunity, representing my country as Foreign Minister."

"Israel is a beacon of light, hope, a source of democracy, and an example to the whole world, and I am proud of Canada's steadfast, and consistent support for Israel," he said, lauding the Jewish state.

"Even though we are far from here, we understand the challenges facing the region, and they are on everybody's doorstep," he added. "We are not ones to stand on the sidelines and hope for the best, but want to be part of the solutions to the challenges that we face in the world. Part of my visit of course, is to demonstrate that commitment, that long term relationship between Israel and Canada that will continue in the future."

While Canada has been a staunch ally of Israel with Prime Minister Stephen Harper at the helm, there are concerns that in upcoming elections in October, Liberal leader Justin Trudeau may win and change Canadian policy.

Last April, Trudeau condemned Harper in a Farsi-language local paper of supporting Israel to gain Jewish votes – even as he called for rapprochement with Iran in the Canadian-Iranian paper.


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