The verdict is still out on what Israel's relationship with Canada will be under the leadership of that country's new Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau – but if an exchange between Trudeau and Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu at the Paris climate summit Monday is any indication, Israel can expect to continue to have positive relations with Canada.
"I’m delighted to see Prime Minister Trudeau,” Netanyahu said. “We’ve had a chance to speak on the telephone. Canada and Israel have had superb relations. There’s a foundation there to make these relations even stronger. Very practical things that are of interest to both our peoples, and I look forward to having that conversation with you. Now I’m inviting you to Israel at your earliest opportunity." Netanyahu also invited Trudeau to visit Israel.
The meeting was significant, because many Israelis, both inside and out of government, are concerned that Israel's relations with Canada under Trudeau will not be as good as they were under Stephen Harper. Trudeau was elected Prime Minister in October, replacing Harper who was a staunch supporter of Israel. During the campaign, Trudeau accused Harper of pursuing a staunchly pro-Israel foreign policy so as to gain Jewish votes. In an interview with the Farsi-language weekly newspaper Salaam Toronto, Trudeau said that “his (Harper's) position on issues tied to Israel or to the United Nations is very much based on what can affect his standing in the ballot box.”
Trudeau also slammed Canada's tough stance on Iran's nuclear program, saying "the Iranian people are different from the Iranian government. The current Canadian government isn't going to the root of the issue at all and doesn't under this. The most obvious example of this was the decision last year to close the (Canadian) embassy (in Tehran).”
However, last week Trudeau instructed his country's UN representatives to vote against the six resolutions condemning Israel which were passed by the UN General Assembly. Trudeau’s Liberals have also expressed support for Israel, and he recently noted that he would "support Israel and any Canadian government will." However, some analysts predicted a more critical line for Israel and a boost in support for the Palestinians in the event of a Trudeau win.
Speaking to Netanyahu Monday, Trudeau said that “indeed it would be a pleasure to return to Israel when it works out, but in general this is really about starting and continuing… starting a conversation to continue the very strong friendship and relationship between Canada and Israel. We have many issues to talk about, to discuss, but also many issues to collaborate on, and I look forward to continuing the strong friendship that Canada has shown towards Israel for decades, and will continue for ongoing times.”