Canada takes strong pro-Israel line at G8 summit
By Luke Baker and David Ljunggren
DEAUVILLE, France (Reuters) - 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 Friday.
The 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 Ottawa 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 such a reference.
The communique called for the immediate resumption of peace talks but did not mention 1967, the year Israel seized the West Bank and Gaza from Jordan and Egypt during the Six-Day War.
U.S. President Barack Obama last week laid out a vision for peace in the Middle East, saying pre-1967 borders should be a basis for talks to achieve a negotiated settlement. Israel quickly dismissed the idea as unworkable.
"The Canadians were really very adamant, even though Obama expressly referred to 1967 borders in his speech last week," one European diplomat said.
Harper, pressed repeatedly by reporters, declined to confirm he had objected to the language on borders but said he would oppose what he called unbalanced statements on finding peace in the Middle East.
"We are very much at ease with President Obama's speech but you cannot cherry pick elements of that speech," he said. Continued...