Canada has “Tough Message” for Ally Israel

January 27, 2016

2 min read

Canada’s recently elected Liberal government had some criticism for Israel, motivated, it said, by the friendship between the two countries. Reuters reported that the statement, made Monday, was meant to clarify Canadian Foreign Minister Stephane Dion’s comments from the day before in which he had deemed both unilateral Palestinian moves on the international stage and Israeli settlement activity “unhelpful”.

“We’re steadfast allies and good friends, and good friends can occasionally deliver tough messages, but it’s by no means to suggest that we’re somehow retreating from any kind of support of Israel,” said Joe Pickerill, Dion’s spokesman.

His words came in response to critique leveled against Dion by the Conservative party. On Sunday, Dion had issued a statement saying, “As a steadfast ally and friend to Israel, Canada calls for all efforts to be made to reduce violence and incitement and to help build the conditions for a return to the negotiating table.”

Conservatives pounced, saying the statement “equates…terrorist attacks with Israeli settlement construction. This is unacceptable.” The former leading party had expected Dion to place the blame “for recent terrorist rocket and knife attacks with Hamas, a listed terrorist organisation in Canada.”

Pickerell denied the allegation that Dion’s statement created a “faux balance” between the two sides. “We’re not necessarily equating the violence by any means on both sides, but there have been issues, and we need to be in a position to point that out,” he said.

The Conservative party lost to the Liberals in October, ending Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s leadership of Canada after nearly ten years. During his tenure, Harper was a staunch supporter of Israel, even when such a position was unpopular. In 2008, Harper was the first to withdraw his country from the Durban II conference on racism in protest, saying the event would “scapegoat the Jewish people.”

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