"Canada and Israel Are Two Democracies That Share Values"

Published: September 16th 2010
in News » Local

Minister of State Kent meets with Israeli Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Danny Ayalon
Minister of State Kent signing the Book of Remembrance after the Children's Memorial at Yad Vashem

Peter Kent, Canadian Minister of State of Foreign Affairs (Americas) and Member of Parliament for Thornhill, recently completed a special eight day visit to Israel in order to launch Canada-Israel discussions on the Americas.


During the visit, which he described as “very successful”, Kent had the opportunity to meet with Israeli officials, including Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman and Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon.


“Canada has represented Israel’s interest in Cuba since 1973, and we’ve represented Israel’s interest in Venezuela since last year, after the ambassador was expelled by Hugo Chavez during the Gaza incursion,” explained Kent during a conversation with Shalom Life. “So we had a lot to talk about there, and we generally talked about common interests and concerns right through the Americas.”


Some of the issues that were discussed included security and the pressure being applied on the government of Argentina to pursue an investigation by the International Court of Justice of the terrorist bombing of the AMIA Center in 1994 and the Israeli embassy in 1992 in Buenos Aires. Israel’s interest in assisting Haiti in the reconstruction process following last January’s earthquake was also discussed, as well as Israel’s commercial interests in Panama.


An important topic of discussion was Canada’s recent investment in the Palestinian Authority. “We’ve got some $300 million invested in a plan for justice support and development, for codification of a justice system in the PA, and most of the money [is] going to the establishment of a new national security force,” explained Kent, and added that more than 2,000 members have been recruited and trained in Jordan for the new Palestinian security force. “We’re supporting leadership training now so that in the event of a successful end to the peace talks and the creation of an independent Palestinian state, they’ll have institutions that are ready to lead them into democracy.”


While in Israel, Kent also met with President Shimon Peres, a meeting which he described as “very good”.


“[We] had a long chat about the peace process and about his remembrances of previous attempts and the fact that whatever the challenges, we’ve got to keep trying,” said Kent.


Kent’s visit to Israel took place just as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas had met in Washington to launch direct peace talks. Kent said that Canada is “pleased” that direct peace talks have begun and that it is “very supportive of the positions expressed by both Prime Minister Netanyahu and President Abbas.”


He added that he believes that both Netanyahu and Abbas have expressed a willingness to negotiate on all the points before them and said that while the American deadline to achieve an agreement within a year is “a tight one”, he believes that the attempt should still be made and that “Canada’s position is that we stand ready to assist either side or both sides in any way that might be helpful.” He also said that any progress which might be made over the next year would be a significant one that “should be recognized and applauded and encouraged.”


Related articles: (Peter Kent, Israel, Canada)

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