Canada on Tuesday added its name to the list of countries who want to help break the frozen peace process between Israelis and Palestinians.
“We want to be doing everything we can to create conditions where the direct parties involved, the Palestinian Authority, Israelis .. can find a way to the peace table,” said Canada’s Governor-General David Johnston.
He spoke with The Jerusalem Post
at a lounge at the David Citadel Hotel in Jerusalem, just hours after arriving in Israel from Jordan.
Ultimately, it is the Israelis and the Palestinians who have to reach a negotiated solution, said Johnston. Other parties like Canada can encourage that, but can’t substitute for it, he said.
The state visit marks the first time that a Canadian Governor General, a post akin to the Israeli presidency, has visited the region and Israel, which has very strong ties with Canada.
Johnston began his week long trip on October 29th and will remain in Israel and the Palestinian territories until November 5 with a delegation of over 20 people. During his time here he will meet with both Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas. as well as visit educational and research facilities, including the Technion.
“We want to reinforce our friendship and relationship with Israel,” Johnston said. Among other things, he said, his country has taken a strong position against the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement.
Canada also wants to continue its work in the West Bank where it is supporting education projects and helping the Palestinian police, including opening a criminal forensic laboratory, he said.
“We are deeply interested in the peace and stability and the challenges in this part of the world,” he said adding, “Canada is anxious to do its part.”
His country plans to invest 1.6 billion in humanitarian, educational, scientific innovation and research projects, Johnston said.
Among the initiative Johnston refers as a potential example of collaboration in the region, is one called the “Red-Dead” project which desalinates sea water from the Mediterranean, turning it into drinking water and then using the desalination brine to help revive the Dead Sea. The project involves Israel, the Palestinian Authority and Jordan.
Johnston said that in addition, Canada is already involved in the issue of Syrian refugees, absorbing 32,000 of them in Canada. While in Jordan, he said, he visited refugee camps that have received assistance from Canada.
His daughter is part of a group of four people, who like others in Canada, have supporting Syrian refugee family.
Johnston said he believes that peace comes from joint collaboration between people.
When visiting the Western Wall earlier in the day, he put in a note that said, “Let all the nations come and make peace, may that come to be.”