Thank you for your many recent messages concerning the tragic and deteriorating situation in the Middle East.
Some have expressed strong support for Israel’s right to defend itself against terrorist organizations in Gaza and Lebanon involved in capturing and killing Israeli soldiers and launching rocket attacks killing civilians inside Israel. Others have expressed outrage at the civilian deaths and destruction of civil infrastructure in Gaza and Lebanon by Israeli bombing. Canada must continue to speak and act in support of peace in the Middle East. This includes mutually recognized and secure borders, democratic governments independent of foreign control, and viable economies and civil institutions capable of providing human security and dignity for their citizens.
Canada was one of the first countries to recognize the UN mandated State of Israel and is one of its closest friends. This friendship is best exercised by supporting peace and the negotiated settlement of differences, a balanced appreciation of both legitimate grievances and rights, and concerted multilateral pressure to halt external provocation.
I suggest a few imperatives:
• The legitimate existence of Israel must be recognized by all governments, including Iran, Syria and the Hamas-lead Palestinian Authority.
• Suicide bombing and the bombing of civilians and civil infrastructure and institutions by all parties must stop.
• Militias and military wings of political entities such as Hezbollah and Hamas must be disarmed by their governments.
• Canada, in concert with the international community, must provide humanitarian relief, economic development assistance, and support for democratic governance in impoverished and conflict damaged areas.
• And all parties must disavow violence and commit to the peaceful resolution of differences.
Death and despair in the Middle East is a human catastrophe with global significance. Canada’s experience in balanced negotiation, peace keeping, humanitarian assistance and democratic capacity building must guide our approach to all our friends in great peril in this troubled region.
I look forward to your continued advice on this crisis.