Binyamin Netanyahu and Stephen Harper 311.
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman phoned Canada’s new Foreign Minister John
Baird over the weekend to thank him for Ottawa’s position at the Group of Eight
meeting in France that led to the softening of a statement on the
Israeli-Palestinian issue and the elimination of a reference to the 1967
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Canada was a “true friend of Israel,” and through a correct
reading of the situation understand that the 1967 lines were incompatible with
both defensible borders for Israel and demographic realities, Lieberman
Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper had insisted that no mention
of the 1967 lines be made in the leaders’ final communiqué, even though most of
the other leaders wanted a mention, diplomats said on Friday.
an Arab League committee decided at a meeting in Doha, Qatar on Saturday to seek
full UN membership for a Palestinian state in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank,
with east Jerusalem as its capital, it said in a statement.
League’s peace process follow-up committee said it would request membership for
the state of Palestine at the UN General Assembly’s meeting in New York in
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu spoke with Harper by phone
from Washington last week, Israeli officials said. Netanyahu had originally
hoped to stop in Canada on his way back from the US, but was unable to do so
because of scheduling conflicts.
“The Canadians were really very adamant,
even though Obama expressly referred to 1967 borders in his speech last week,”
one European diplomat said of Harper’s position.
In the final communiqué,
the leaders called for the immediate resumption of peace talks, but did not
mention the 1967 lines.
“Negotiations are the only way toward a
comprehensive and lasting resolution to the conflict,” the communiqué said. “The
framework for these negotiations is well known. We urge both parties to return
to substantive talks with a view to concluding a framework agreement on all
final-status issues. To that effect, we express our strong support for the
vision of Israeli-Palestinian peace outlined by President Obama on May 19,
In speeches last week, Barack Obama said the June 4, 1967 lines
should be a basis of talks to achieve a negotiated settlement, but acknowledged
that any agreement would ultimately involve land swaps that would be able to
take into account the “new demographic realities on the ground.”
strong backing for Israel was cited by diplomats last year as one reason why
Ottawa failed to win a rotating two-year seat on the UN Security
Harper has made his position on Israel very clear, saying last
year: “When Israel, the only country in the world whose very existence is under
attack, is consistently and conspicuously singled out for condemnation, I
believe we are morally obligated to take a stand.”
In elections on May 2, the Tories, under Harper, won its first majority
government since 1988.
Harper, according to Toronto’s The Globe and Mail
newspaper, said after the G8 meeting that the 1967 lines were only part of the
position Obama laid out in his May 19 Middle East speech, and that he couldn’t
accept the inclusion of the 1967 lines in the communiqué without referring as
well to Obama’s call for the Palestinians to take steps toward
“You can’t cherry pick elements of that speech,” the paper quoted
Harper as saying.
“I think if you’re going to get into other elements,
obviously I would like to see reference to elements that were also in President
Obama’s speech. Such as, for instance, the fact that one of the states must be a
Jewish state. The fact that the Palestinian state must be
In Doha, the head of the Arab League reiterated on
Saturday that the Palestinians should seek UN recognition of statehood in
September because negotiations with Israel had proven futile.
path is going to the United Nations and political struggle,” Amr Moussa told
He was speaking as Arab League member states met on Saturday
night to discuss Palestinian options in the wake of major policy speeches by
Obama and Netanyahu.
Moussa said a vision presented by Netanyahu in an
address to the US Congress on Tuesday had amounted to a series of
“I believe that negotiations have become futile in light of all
of these no’s. What will you negotiate on?” Moussa asked, referring to the
Netanyahu speech, which the Palestinians said put more obstacles in the path of
the moribund peace process.
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud
Abbas, who was in Doha for the meeting of the Arab League’s peace process
committee, reiterated last week he would seek UN recognition for Palestinian
statehood if there was no breakthrough in the peace process by
September.Reuters contributed to this report.