Canadian PM Stephen Harper Lone Support for Israel at G8 — Prevents Reference to 1967 Borders in G8 Statement

ISRAEL POLITICAL BRIEF

By Bonnie K. Goodman

Ms. Goodman is the Editor of History Musings and JBuzz. She has a BA in History & Art History & a Masters in Library and Information Studies from McGill University, and has done graduate work in Jewish Studies at Concordia University.

ISRAEL POLITICAL BRIEF: ISRAEL NEWS

Canada's Prime Minister Stephen Harper makes statements during a closing news briefing at the G8 summit in Deauville, northern France May 27, 2011.

Canada’s Prime Minister Stephen Harper makes statements during a closing news briefing at the G8 summit in Deauville, northern France May 27, 2011.

Photograph by: Jean-Paul Pelissierr, Reuters

IN FOCUS

  • G8 Summit Statement on Israel: G8 DECLARATION RENEWED COMMITMENT FOR FREEDOM AND DEMOCRACY G8 Summit of Deauville – May 26-27, 2011 – G8 Summit 2011

THE HEADLINES….

  • Harper blocks mention of 1967 border in G8 Mideast statement: Stephen Harper blocked G8 leaders from declaring in their summit statement that Middle East peace talks should be based on returning to Israel’s pre-war 1967 borders, plus negotiated land swaps.
    U.S. President Barack Obama had made that stand a key part of his campaign to re-launch peace talks, making the call for talks based on 1967 borders in a May 19 speech that was endorsed by most leaders of the Group of Eight countries gathered here.
    Prime Minister Stephen Harper answers reporters’ questions following the first day of the G8 Summit in Deauville, France. Sean Kilpatrick/The Canadian Press
    But it’s a position that has been rejected by Israel, which regards returning to its smaller 1967 borders as unacceptable because they did not include East Jerusalem, which the Israeli government views as part of its capital, and key strategic territory for its security.
    G8 leaders meeting in Deauville, France had sought to include the reference to 1967 borders as a way to prod talks by signalling concessions must be made – they argued embracing the Arab Spring of pro-democracy movements should be combined with an urgent press for Mideast peace. But Mr. Harper judged that the draft other G8 leaders wanted wasn’t balanced, and didn’t refer to key Palestinian concessions that Mr. Obama also outlined in his speech…. – Globe & Mail, 5-27-11
  • G8 leaders omit mention of 1967 borders in Middle East statement: Diplomats say that Canada objected to a specific mention of the 1967 borders in statement issued by world leaders calling for resumption of Israel-Palestinian peace talks.
    Group of Eight leaders had to soften a statement urging Israel and the Palestinians to return to negotiations because Canada objected to a specific mention of 1967 borders, diplomats said on Friday.
    Canada’s right-leaning Conservative government has adopted a staunchly pro-Israel position in international negotiations since coming to power in 2006, with Prime Minister Stephen Harper saying Canada will back Israel whatever the cost.
    Diplomats involved in Middle East discussions at the G8 summit said Canada had insisted that no mention of Israel’s pre-1967 borders be made in the leaders’ final communique, even though most of the other leaders wanted a mention.
    “The Canadians were really very adamant, even though Obama expressly referred to 1967 borders in his speech last week,” one European diplomat said…. – Haaretz, 5-27-11
  • Harper’s role in Middle East peace efforts causes stir at G8: Prime Minister Stephen Harper praised a G8 resolution on the Middle East peace process Friday that, according to a media report, was watered down at his request to avoid a reference that has infuriated Israel.
    The stir at the summit over Harper’s role arose as the G8 leaders emerged with a $40-billion U.S. plan to help Egypt and Tunisia transform from dictatorships to democracies.
    French President Nicolas Sarkozy said $20 billion would come from multilateral institutions, such as the African Development Bank, $10 billion from Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Kuwait, and $10 billion in direct bilateral aid from G8 countries — including $1 billion from France.
    But Canada refused to commit to any country-to-country aid, saying it has given sufficient funding since 2009 to multilateral institutions tasked to help the region.
    Reuters cited diplomatic sources saying that Harper insisted there be no reference to Israel’s borders before 1967, when it seized the West Bank and Gaza from Jordan and Egypt, respectively, during the Six Day War…. – Montreal Gazette, 5-27-11
  • Obama statement on Israeli borders should be looked at in totality: Harper says: Focus over a return to 1967 borders as a condition for peace between Israel and Palestine misses some of the other points the U.S. is trying to make in how to achieve an end to that historic conflict, Prime Minister Stephen Harper said Friday.
    Talks on unrest in the Middle East and North Africa have dominated the G8 summit in France. While the discussions have largely been about the economic and political impact of recent uprisings in Egypt, Tunisia and elsewhere, addressing the older conflict in the region was revived ahead of the talks, thanks to a landmark address this month by U.S. President Barack Obama.
    In it, Obama urged that a Palestinian state be based on 1967 borders _ before the Six Day War in which Israel occupied East Jerusalem, the West Bank and Gaza. It marked a significant shift in the U.S. position and infuriated Israel.
    Obama’s remarks were called “courageous” by French President Nicolas Sarkozy at a news conference Thursday, but Harper didn’t go that far in his first public comments on the speech.
    Obama’s speech needs to be looked at as a whole, Harper said. “President Obama emphasized that in a two-state solution, one of those states has to be a Jewish state and conceded to be a Jewish state, another is that the Palestinian state must be a demilitarized state,” Harper told a small news conference after the final working session of the G8 meetings on Thursday.
    “So I think these and other messages are important messages to deliver and I say I think if you look at the statement in its totality it was very balanced and it is certainly something that Canada can support.” The Canadian Press, 5-27-11
  • 1967 Lines Reference Pulled from G8 Statement: A reference to the 1967 lines as the basis for a future border was reportedly removed at Canada’s request from a G8 summit statement calling for renewed Israeli-Palestinian negotiations.g8 summit
    Reuters cited unnamed diplomatic sources who said that the language was stricken at Canada’s insistence. The G8 summit, which is taking place this year in Deauville, France, brings together leaders of eight of the world’s leading economic powers.
    “The Canadians were really very adamant, even though Obama expressly referred to 1967 borders in his speech last week,” a European diplomat told Reuters.
    Obama’s call has been praised by some of the leaders of G8 member states, including British Prime Minister David Cameron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel.
    Canada’s leader, Prime Minister Stephen Harper, is known for his strongly pro-Israel views. Reuters obtained a copy of the final G8 statement, which expresses “strong support for the vision of Israeli-Palestinian peace outlined by President Obama.” – Virtual Jerusalem, 5-27-11
  • 1967 lines reference pulled from G8 statement at Canada’s request: A reference to the 1967 lines as the basis for a future border was reportedly removed at Canada’s request from a G8 summit statement calling for renewed Israeli-Palestinian negotiations.
    Reuters cited unnamed diplomatic sources who said that the language was stricken at Canada’s insistence. The G8 summit, which is taking place this year in Deauville, France, brings together leaders of eight of the world’s leading economic powers.
    “The Canadians were really very adamant, even though Obama expressly referred to 1967 borders in his speech last week,” a European diplomat told Reuters.
    In his May 19 Middle East policy speech, President Obama called for the 1967 lines with mutually agreed land swaps to be the basis for a future border between Israel and a Palestinian state. This formulation drew objections from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who called the 1967 lines “indefensible” for Israel.
    Obama’s call has been praised by some of the leaders of G8 member states, including British Prime Minister David Cameron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel.
    Canada’s leader, Prime Minister Stephen Harper, is known for his strongly pro-Israel views.
    Reuters obtained a copy of the final G8 statement, which expresses “strong support for the vision of Israeli-Palestinian peace outlined by President Obama.” JTA, 5-27-11
  • Canada takes pro-Israeli stand at G8 summit: G8 Summit gives in to Canada’s stand against mentioning a specific stand of the 1967 borders at which called for re-commencement of Israel-Palestinian peace talks on Friday.
    Group of eight leaders (G8) had to change the statement which urged Israelis and the Palestinians to return to the negotiating table.
    Canada’s right wing Conservative government adopted a pro-Israel position in the international negotiations since coming to power in 2006.
    Diplomats who were involved in Middle East discussions at the G8 summit said, Canada was insistent that there should not be a mention of Israel’s pre-1967 borders in the communication even though most of the other country leaders wanted to talk about the subject.
    “The Canadians were really very adamant, even though Obama expressly referred to 1967 borders in his speech last week,” a European diplomat said, reported Reuters.
    A spokesperson for Prime Minister Stephen Harper said there would be no comment on the line Canada had taken, saying only that the final communication will only make the positions clear.
    In the final communication, a copy of which was obtained by Reuters, the leaders called for the immediate resumption of peace talks without mentioning the 1967 borders issue.
    “Negotiations are the only way toward a comprehensive and lasting resolution to the conflict,” the spokesperson said.
    “The framework for these negotiations is well known. We urge both parties to return to substantive talks with a view to concluding a framework agreement on all final status issues. “To that effect, we express our strong support for the vision of Israeli-Palestinian peace outlined by President Obama on May 19, 2011.”
    “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,” Harper had said earlier. – IBTimes, 5-27-11
  • Avigdor Lieberman thanks Canada PM for objection to 1967 borders at G8: The foreign minister tells Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper ‘Canada is a true friend of Israel,’ after Harper insisted that no mention of Israel’s pre-1967 borders be made in the leaders’ final communiqué.
    Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman called Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper on Friday to thank him for objecting to a specific mention of 1967 borders in a statement on the Middle East released by leaders of the Group of Eight.
    Diplomats involved in Middle East discussions at the G8 summit on Friday said Canada had insisted that no mention of Israel’s pre-1967 borders be made in the leaders’ final communiqué, even though most of the other leaders wanted a mention.
    “Canada is true friend of Israel,” Lieberman said, adding that they “understand that the 1967 lines are inconsistent with Israel’s security needs.”
    Lieberman and Harper also spoke about taking a stand against Hamas integration into a newly unified Palestinian government. The foreign minister also invited Harper to visit Israel…. – Haaretz, 5-27-11

QUOTES

  • Excerpts: G8 Statement on Israel: In the final communiqué of the G8, a copy of which was obtained by Reuters, the leaders call for the immediate resumption of peace talks but do not mention 1967, the year Israel seized the West Bank and Gaza from Jordan and Egypt during the Six-Day War.
    “Negotiations are the only way toward a comprehensive and lasting resolution to the conflict,” the communiqué said.
    “The framework for these negotiations is well known. We urge both parties to return to substantive talks with a view to concluding a framework agreement on all final status issues.
    “To that effect, we express our strong support for the vision of Israeli-Palestinian peace outlined by President Obama on May 19, 2011.”
  • Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper Remarks at G8 Summit on Israel: “You can’t cherry pick elements of that speech. In terms of being balanced and even-handed and tying to resolve the Middle East peace conference, all of the elements of that speech have to be looked at as a totality, and I think that’s the basis on which we have to approach the situation.”
    “I think if you’re going to get into other elements, obviously I would like to see reference to elements that were also in President Obama’s speech. Such as, for instance, the fact that one of the states must be a Jewish state. The fact that the Palestinian state must be de-militarized. I think it’s important that any statement on this be balanced, as was President Obama’s.”
  • B’nai Brith Canada: Prime Minster Harper’s strong G8 stance on Mideast welcomed: B’nai Brith Canada has welcomed the efforts of Prime Minister Stephen Harper to ensure that the call of the G8 leaders for renewed peace negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians is not tied to any precondition relating to the 1967 borders.
    “We welcome the fact that the G8 communiqué will reportedly not impose preconditions that could a priori prejudice the negotiating framework and thereby undermine at the outset crucial Israeli security needs,” stated Frank Dimant, CEO of B’nai Brith Canada. “Preconditions of this nature can only hamper negotiations and cannot ensure lasting peace between the parties.”
    “We are proud not just that our Prime Minster has taken such a principled position on the world stage, but that he evidently commands the respect of the G8 leaders who have accepted his recommendations on this issue.” – Canada Free Press, 5-27-11
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