WATCH: Canada’s FM Rob Nicholson meets with Israel’s PM Netanyahu in Jerusalem, saying Jewish state has no choice and must defend itself.
Canada’s foreign minister on Wednesday reaffirmed his country’s ironclad support for Israel and said the realities of the Middle East left the Jewish state no choice but to defend itself.
Meeting Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and on his first visit to Israel, Rob Nicholson’s comments were welcomed by his host at a time of growing pressure on Netanyahu and his right-wing government to curb West Bank settlement and renew talks with the Palestinians.
“We believe we have no better friend than Canada,” Netanyahu said as he met Nicholson in Jerusalem.
“We think that this is a refreshing wind in an increasingly hostile environment.”
Netanyahu’s relations with the White House, Israel’s traditional staunch ally, have been going through a rocky patch.
President Barack Obama said on Tuesday that the traditional US vetoes on United Nations resolutions condemning the Jewish State were becoming harder to justify.
“Up until this point, we have pushed away against European efforts, for example, or other efforts,” he told Israeli Channel Two television.
“If, in fact, there’s no prospect of an actual peace process, if nobody believes there’s a peace process, then it becomes more difficult to argue with those who are concerned about settlement construction, those who are concerned about the current situation,” Obama said.
Nicholson voiced no reservations as he stood beside Netanyahu on Wednesday.
“I am here to demonstrate, emphatically, Canada’s unwavering support for Israel,” he said.
“We understand that Israel’s neighborhood is as dangerous as Canada’s is peaceful, and so we know that Israel’s leadership has no choice but to take at all times, every step necessary to protect itself from the forces that are openly committed to its destruction.”
Nicholson is one of a string of foreign officials making their way to Israel and the Palestinian territories since the inauguration last month of Netanyahu’s new government, one of the most right-wing in Israeli history.
“We’ve long refused to be neutral in supporting Israel’s right to defend itself against violent extremists,” Nicholson said.
“Israel is on the frontline of free and democratic nations the world over,” he added.
“Any who turn their back on Israel, or turn a blind eye to the nature of Israel’s enemies, do so in the long run at their own peril.”
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