Skip to main content
The Globe and Mail
Support Quality Journalism.
The Globe and Mail
First Access to Latest
Investment News
Collection of curated
e-books and guides
Inform your decisions via
Globe Investor Tools
per week
for first 24 weeks

Enjoy unlimited digital access
Enjoy Unlimited Digital Access
Get full access to
Just $1.99per week for the first 24weeks
Just $1.99per week for the first 24weeks
var select={root:".js-sub-pencil",control:".js-sub-pencil-control",open:"o-sub-pencil--open",closed:"o-sub-pencil--closed"},dom={},allowExpand=!0;function pencilInit(o){var e=arguments.length>1&&void 0!==arguments[1]&&arguments[1];select.root=o,dom.root=document.querySelector(select.root),dom.root&&(dom.control=document.querySelector(select.control),dom.control.addEventListener("click",onToggleClicked),setPanelState(e),window.addEventListener("scroll",onWindowScroll),dom.root.removeAttribute("hidden"))}function isPanelOpen(){return dom.root.classList.contains(}function setPanelState(o){dom.root.classList[o?"add":"remove"](,dom.root.classList[o?"remove":"add"](select.closed),dom.control.setAttribute("aria-expanded",o)}function onToggleClicked(){var l=!isPanelOpen();setPanelState(l)}function onWindowScroll(){window.requestAnimationFrame(function() {var l=isPanelOpen(),n=0===(document.body.scrollTop||document.documentElement.scrollTop);n||l||!allowExpand?n&&l&&(allowExpand=!0,setPanelState(!1)):(allowExpand=!1,setPanelState(!0))});}pencilInit(".js-sub-pencil",!1); // via darwin-bg var slideIndex = 0; carousel(); function carousel() { var i; var x = document.getElementsByClassName("subs_valueprop"); for (i = 0; i < x.length; i++) { x[i].style.display = "none"; } slideIndex++; if (slideIndex> x.length) { slideIndex = 1; } x[slideIndex - 1].style.display = "block"; setTimeout(carousel, 2500); } //

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, right, shakes hands with Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper at a welcoming ceremony in Jerusalem on Jan. 19, 2014.


Prime Minister Stephen Harper's eight years of unequivocal backing came to life with a display of exuberant goodwill on his first day in Israel, but his first personal foray into the Middle East will still test his assertions that Canada can be the Jewish state's staunchest ally and retain a regional role with other key players.

At a time when U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry is seeking a framework agreement to extend Israel-Palestinians peace talks, Mr. Harper's agenda for the week-long visit – a meeting Monday with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, a speech to the Knesset and meetings with Jordan's King Abdullah – will compel him to weigh in on regional issues, and for the first time, with a personal presence.

Already, his arrival in Israel has provoked a reception that cements his reputation as, in Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's words, Israel's "best friend."

Story continues below advertisement

Mr. Harper was announced to trumpet bursts, inspected an honour guard, and walked, smiling through a reception line that included a half-dozen Israeli cabinet ministers.

"This world is often cynical and hypocritical, and you have shown great moral leadership," Mr. Netanyahu said, lauding him for speaking out against terrorism and anti-semitism, and for supporting Israel's security. "In standing up for the truth, your voice, Stephen, has been an indispensable one."

Mr. Harper made only brief remarks in reply, saying he was "delighted" to be in Israel, and that he'd save his words for his Knesset speech on Monday evening. But the group accompanying him in Israel showed similar gusto, with 208 private citizens in the "accompanying party," including 21 rabbis, representatives of 20 Jewish community groups, and a half-dozen evangelical Christian organizations, and business people including the presidents of Air Canada and Bell Helicopter Canada.

There's little doubt Mr. Harper's visit here is intended to entrench Conservative support within the Jewish community in Canada – 15 Conservative MPs, plus Mr. Harper, were in attendance.

But Mr. Harper's visit also underscores his government's foreign policy shift: echoing Israel's skepticism about a diplomatic deal on Iran's nuclear program, refusing to condemn Israeli settlements, and opposing international diplomatic pressure on Israel. His hosts will want another element emphasized in his Knesset speech: that peace requires Palestinians to accept Israel as a Jewish state, something Mr. Netanyahu insists is fundamental but Mr. Abbas rejects.

While Mr. Harper has set aside the notion of Canada as a neutral, honest-broker, his agenda is also aimed at asserting his pro-Israel policy it is not one-note.

His first working meeting will be in Ramallah, with Mr. Abbas, in an attempt to reset relations with the Palestinian Authority. The last meeting between the two men, at United Nations headquarters in New York in 2012, was brusque: Mr. Harper warned him against his bid for observer-state status at the UN. Canada then delayed renewal of its five-year, $300-million Palestinian aid package.

Story continues below advertisement

Now, Mr. Harper is expected to announce a new aid package. Canada's last aid package centred on policing and justice, like building a courthouse, and the Palestinians have this time suggested social programs, like education.

But Mr. Harper's government has seized upon the idea of promoting the private-sector economy, possibly including a funding mechanism for Palestinian companies to access capital – aimed at stimulating the Palestinian economy in the belief it will improve the climate for cooperation with Israel.

In Jordan, Israel's friendliest Arab neighbour, Mr. Harper's visit will underscore support for a country whose moderate Hashemite kingdom, coping with the influx of 600,000 Syrian refugees, faces a fragile balance. Mr. Harper's government, concerned that King Abdullah's moderate regime may be threatened, committed $75-million in aid to Jordan last year.

With those steps, Mr. Harper appears set to claim his Mideast policy engages other key players – but notably in ways largely welcomed by Israel, and by many in Canada's Jewish community.

"They have a degree of comfort and confidence that support expressed for legitimate Palestinian aspirations and challenges facing Jordan don't come at the expense of the support expressed for Israel," said Shimon Fogel, chief executive officer of the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs. "In that context, they're comfortable with Canada playing that kind of role."

Campbell Clark is The Globe's chief political writer.

Your Globe

Build your personal news feed

  1. Follow topics and authors relevant to your reading interests.
  2. Check your Following feed daily, and never miss an article. Access your Following feed from your account menu at the top right corner of every page.

Follow the author of this article:

View more suggestions in Following Read more about following topics and authors
Report an error Editorial code of conduct
Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff.

We aim to create a safe and valuable space for discussion and debate. That means:

  • Treat others as you wish to be treated
  • Criticize ideas, not people
  • Stay on topic
  • Avoid the use of toxic and offensive language
  • Flag bad behaviour

If you do not see your comment posted immediately, it is being reviewed by the moderation team and may appear shortly, generally within an hour.

We aim to have all comments reviewed in a timely manner.

Comments that violate our community guidelines will not be posted.

UPDATED: Read our community guidelines here

Discussion loading ...

To view this site properly, enable cookies in your browser. Read our privacy policy to learn more.
How to enable cookies