Canadian Foreign Minister John Baird in Israel

January 31, 2012

Canadian Foreign Minister Baird, on a visit to Israel, delivered a keynote address at the Interdisciplinary Centre in Herzliyah where he affirmed Canada’s friendship with Israel, support for a two-state solution and negotiations without preconditions:

“The state of Israel embodies principles that Canada values and respects. It is a beacon of light in a region that craves freedom, democracy, human rights and the rule of law.

“Canada upholds Israel’s right to exist—as a Jewish state—in peace and security. On this point, there is no space for moral ambivalence. We are compelled as a country of free citizens to speak clearly. We have the right and therefore the obligation to speak out and to act. Canada will not accept that, or stay silent while, the Jewish state is attacked for defending its territory or its people. We uphold Israel’s fundamental right to defend innocent civilians against acts of terrorism."

Speaking of incitement and anti-Semitism, Mr. Baird stated: “ Indeed, Israel today is a country whose very existence is under attack both literally and figuratively.Whether it is rockets raining down on Israeli schools, or the constant barrage of rhetorical demonization, double standards and delegitmization, Israel is under attack. It is symptomatic of that new ill – the new anti-Semitism: Harnessing disparate anti-Semitic, anti-American and anti-Western ideologies, it targets the Jewish people by targeting the Jewish homeland, Israel, as the source of injustice and conflict in the world, and uses, perversely, the language of human rights to do so. We must be relentless in exposing this new anti-Semitism for what it is. Of course, like any country, Israel may be subjected to fair criticism. And like any free country, Israel subjects itself to such criticism — healthy, necessary, democratic debate. But 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."

Baird affirmed Canada’s support for a two-state solution “that is negotiated by the two parties in good faith and without preconditions. We believe the statement by the Quartet this past September lays the foundation for a return to negotiations.We encourage both sides to accept the Quartet’s principles and return to sustained, direct talks.”

Baird later met with Mahmood Abbas and reiterated reiterated to President Abbas Canada’s support for the Authority’s continuing governance reforms.

“Canada is committed to implementing its assistance package of $300 million to support the Palestinian Authority’s Reform and Development Plan,” said Baird. “These efforts should help the Palestinian Authority to build the institutions and necessary infrastructure for a viable Palestinian state, one which is the result of an agreement negotiated between the two parties.”

Minister Baird urged President Abbas to make peace, recognize Israel and return to the negotiating table. He also emphasized that unilateral efforts to gain recognition without a negotiated peace agreement with Israel are ultimately unhelpful.

“Palestinians and Israelis deserve free states of their own,” said Baird. “They deserve to live in peace, security and with human dignity. To that end, both must use the responsibility of their freedom for good.”


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