(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)
Former Canadian prime minister Stephen Harper, who during his nearly 10 years in office was a staunch supporter of Israel, flew out Saturday after a low-profile, week-long business trip in the country.
According to diplomatic sources, Harper met with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, as well as with US Ambassador David Friedman.
While Netanyahu’s office did not put out any information about the meeting, Friedman tweeted on Friday, “It was an honor to meet today in Jerusalem with the 22nd Prime Minister of Canada, Stephen Harper. With the exception of my boss, I can think of few if any world leaders who have been better friends of Israel over the past generation. Wishing him well in all his efforts.”
On Thursday Harper tweeted to his 1.24 million followers that he was “excited to be back in Israel to meet with incredibly talented people and businesses in cyber technology, defence and AI [artificial intelligence]. Looking forward to strengthening Canada and Israel’s entrepreneurial partnerships.”
After he met with Friedman, he tweeted: “Canada and Israel have no better friends than the United States. An honour to meet @USAmbIsrael David Friedman in Jerusalem this evening.”
Harper served for nearly a decade as prime minister, losing the election in October 2015 to Justin Trudeau.
He charted a strongly pro-Israel position, frequently defending the Jewish state in speeches and statements and pushing the already strong bilateral ties between the two countries even further.
Netanyahu greeted Harper to Israel in 2014 by saying, “You are a great friend of Israel and the Jewish people. I am not just saying that, I mean it deeply from the bottom of my heart, and I am speaking for all of the people of Israel.”
Harper quit parliament in 2016, and moved to Calgary where he has written a book, joined the speaker’s circuit, and set up a consultancy firm.
In July, Maclean’s magazine quoted Harper as pitching his consultancy firm in a speech.
“I’m also going to mention for those who may have interests abroad that Harper & Associates does maintain a number of platforms around the world that specialize in identifying good business opportunities in a number of sectors.”
Since leaving office, Harper has spoken for and been honored by numerous Jewish and pro-Israel organizations for the pro-Israel course he led, including Israel Bonds, AIPAC and the Jerusalem College of Technology. He has publicly praised US President Donald Trump both for his decision to recognize Jerusalem and for withdrawing from the Iranian nuclear deal.
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