Canadian Jewish Political Affairs Committee
Statement by Liberal Leader Bob Rae on the Visit of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel to Canada

OTTAWA– Liberal Leader Bob Rae made the following statement today on his meeting with Prime Minister of Israel Benjamin Netanyahu:

“The visit by Prime Minister Netanyahu to Ottawa gives all Canadians the chance to reflect on the deep friendship and strong ties between Israel and Canada, as well as the critical issues of peace and security affecting the entire Middle East.

Israel’s security and success is important to Canada, as is the emergence of more democratic, pluralist and stable governments in the entire region.

The Liberal Party has been at the forefront on the issue of Iran, calling the regime to account for its appalling human rights record, its support for terrorism, its genocidal rhetoric, as well as its nuclear program that clearly defies both international obligation and inspection.

Iran’s regime is a threat to the security of the region and the world. Israel needs to know that it is not alone in its concerns about the implications of this regime for its peace and security. A nuclear armed Iran would mean the threat of even greater proliferation and instability in the region, is a direct flouting of international law, and obviously raises the deepest concerns in Israel for its security. President Obama’s statement today makes that very clear.

Canada needs to work with the UN, NATO and all our friends and allies in pursuing a coherent and effective multilateral plan to change the nuclear direction, and the appalling human rights record of the Iranian regime. We need to increase the effectiveness of all multilateral sanctions and other diplomatic approaches to deal with this brutal government. International pressure has to be given the chance to work. We call on Russia and China to help make this happen.

The Prime Minister’s visit also gives us an opportunity to discuss the steps necessary for a comprehensive resolution of the Israel/Palestine issue, as well as our mutual interest in the dramatic changes in the Arab world. Canada needs to remain strongly committed to a two state solution and to the difficult steps from all sides that will be necessary to get there. We continue to urge direct discussions between Israel and the Palestinian Authority without preconditions.

As one who first visited Israel and the West Bank as an MP in 1979, who led an official Ontario delegation to Israel, the Palestinian Authority and Jordan in 1993, and who has returned to the country and the region numerous times since then, the friendship between our two countries is widely shared in Canada, as is our commitment to peace, security and social justice in the entire region.”