Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper will address the Knesset on January 20 in his first official trip to the region. Harper will also meet with officials in Jordan and the West Bank during his four-day visit and will be accompanied by a delegation of 200 Canadian journalists and PR officers.
“I am happy and proud to host the Canadian prime minister, a brave and true friend to Israel, in the Knesset,” the parliament’s speaker, Yuli Edelstein, said Wednesday. “Canada’s governmental and public support for Israel has been unwavering and encouraging throughout our history. I have no doubt that this important visit is a celebration of fraternity for the two countries and I believe that it will further strengthen the ties between them.”
Harper, a staunch and vocal supporter of Israel, announced his visit at a Jewish National Fund fundraising event in Toronto earlier in December. “Israel will always have Canada as a friend in the world,” he pledged at the event.
Under Harper’s leadership, the Canadian government has maintained a firm stance on Iran and the Palestinians.
Canada severed diplomatic ties with Iran in September 2012, closing its embassy in Iran and recalling its diplomats as well as expelling Iranian diplomats from Canada in a move that Tehran at the time termed “hasty and unwise.”
Following the interim deal forged in Geneva between Iran and six world powers on November 24, Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird said he was “deeply skeptical” Iran would follow through on the conditions, since “Iran has not earned the right to have the benefit of the doubt.”
In November 2012, Canada opposed Palestine’s elevation to the status of nonmember state in a UN General Assembly vote, one of only nine countries to do so.