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Baird meets Bibi to strengthen Canada-Israel ties

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John Baird and Benjamin Netanyahu meet in Jerusalem on June 18. [DFAIT photo]

Canadian Foreign Minister John Baird met with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on June 18 in what the foreign ministry termed a “high-level” meeting.

The two politicians met in Jerusalem to discuss advancing the bilateral Strategic Partnership Agreement that the countries agreed to when Baird last visited the region in April.

That agreement deepened pre-existing business and cultural ties between the two nations on multiple fronts, including the areas of free trade, telecommunications, research and development partnerships, security and intelligence co-ordination, the energy sector and academic ties.

According to Baird’s office, he and Netanyahu also discussed regional issues, including the situations in Iran and Syria.

Baird told the Israeli leader “Canada strongly supports Israel’s right to defend itself by itself, and its right to exist in full peace and security. Canada is committed to a just, comprehensive and lasting peace negotiated between Israel and Palestinians.”

On June 17, Baird visited with the Palestinian Authority representatives to announce that Canada was giving $25 million in immediate aid to the Palestinians.

“Canada supports a better, brighter future for all Palestinians,” Baird said in a statement. “The quickest, most sure-fire way to realize the promise of increased prosperity and greater security is to stop negotiating about negotiations and return to the table without preconditions. That’s long been my position and that’s what we’re supporting here today.”

The aid breaks down as follows: $2.5 million distributed through CARE Canada to improve access to food in the West Bank; $3.5 million via Oxfam Quebec to help marginalized Palestinians in need; $11 million through the UN World Food Programme; $945,000 via Handicap International Canada to aid Palestinian children with disabilities; $1.4 million through Save the Children Canada to help the poorest children and families in the West Bank; and $500,000 via the UN Office for the Co-ordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA) to assist in co-ordinating “an effective humanitarian response in this highly complex environment.”

The Canadian foreign minister also attended Israeli President Shimon Peres’ President’s Conference on June 19.

The conference coincided with Peres’ 90th birthday celebration.

While there, Baird announced a gift from Canada to The Peres Center for Peace’s Saving Children project in the form of a $25,000 donation to cover the cost of a bone marrow transplant for a child from Gaza.

The charity provides medical care to Palestinian children in need.

The CJN print edition returns August 1.

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