Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper has started his first official visit to Israel, as Ottawa considers itself one of the Israeli regime’s staunchest allies.
Harper arrived in Israel on Sunday and was greeted by his Israeli counterpart Benjamin Netanyahu who hailed him as a “great friend” of Israel and himself. The two premiers were to meet later on Sunday and to have dinner. Harper is scheduled to address the Israeli Knesset or parliament on Monday and then travel to the West Bank city of Ramallah for talks with acting Palestinian Authority chief Mahmoud Abbas. The Canadian premier, who is accompanied by several cabinet ministers, on Tuesday will meet Israeli President Shimon Peres. His spokesman Jason MacDonald told reporters in Ottawa on Friday that bilateral issues, Iran, the ongoing conflict in Syria and the Israeli-Palestinian talks are among the topics to be discussed between the two sides. Canada was one of the few countries that opposed the successful Palestinian bid in November 2012 to upgrade status at the United Nations from “non-member observer entity” to “non-member observer state.” In October 2011, Canada also opposed the Palestinian effort to win membership within the UNESCO.