The United States has long been a major player in attempts to broker Middle East peace, but now Washington’s neighbor to the north is looking to get into the game.
Ten days after President Shimon Peres’s state visit to Canada, the president of the World Jewish Congress said he expects Canada to take on a new role in MIddle East peace talks.
Both Peres and Ronald Lauder were quoted in Canadian media reports as seeing Canada acting as a go-between. “I believe that in the coming months, Canada can play a role and I think will be invited to play a role,” Lauder said in an interview with The Canadian Press.
“Canada, by definition and inclination, is a bridge-building country,” Peres told Global News program The West Block with Tom Clark. “[Canadians] don’t look for clashes. You look for pacification of the clashes.”
Both Peres and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu visited Canada this spring, and expressed thanks and appreciation for Canadian support of Israel.
Much like Washington, Ottawa has been one of official Jerusalem’s biggest boosters in the West, with Peres recently calling Canada “an extraordinary friend.”
Last month, Canadian foreign minister John Baird told the AJC Global Forum that “Israel has no greater friend in the world today than Canada.”
Lauder made his remarks on Wednesday after a meeting with Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Foreign Minister John Baird in Ottawa to discuss the situation in the Middle East, as well as anti-Semitism, The Canadian Press reported.
In the 1990s, Canada increased its role in the Middle East peace process, chairing the Refugee Working Group and founding a program to relocate Palestinian refugees from Sinai to Gaza.