Baird makes surprise visit to Jerusalem
Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird made a surprise visit to Israel Monday morning, stopping at the Kotel to pray with Rabbi Shmuel Rabinowitz, the rabbi of the Western Wall.
Baird had been on a four-day Middle Eastern trip to Jordan and Lebanon to meet with regional leaders and discuss the impact the crisis in Syria is having on those border countries. He pledged Canada’s support to assist with the humanitarian crisis emerging.
He had not indicated Israel was on his itinerary prior to leaving Ottawa on Aug. 10.
Baird was scheduled to conclude his visit to the region on Monday.
At the time of writing, it was unclear whether Baird had scheduled any last-minute meetings with Israeli leaders as well during his brief visit.
Queries to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs were not returned by The CJN’s deadline.
Reports from Israel indicated Baird was on a personal trip to the holy site.
A Monday morning statement from Rabbi Rabinowitz’s office said Baird was in Israel to show support for the Jewish state and to express “his admiration and friendship for the people of Israel and the hope that the friendship with his country would continue and be strengthened.”
Baird was last in Israel in February to attend the Herzliya Conference, a major annual policy conference organized by the Institute for Policy and Strategy of the Interdisciplinary Center Herzliya, a private institution for higher education.
During his current trip to the region, the foreign minister pledged $10 million in aid to various humanitarian assistance programs in Jordan, Lebanon and Syria to help with the needs of more than 150,000 Syrians who have fled their country for border states.