Harper rolls out the red carpet for Netanyahu
March 6, 2012 | Zev Kalin - Ottawa Correspondent
OTTAWA – Iran was topmost in both leaders’ minds when Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Prime Minister Steven Harper spoke last Friday on the Hill.
Netanyahu said that for “some 15 years” he’s been telling allies, “the arming of Iran with nuclear weapons is the greatest threat to my country and to the peace of the world.”
To illustrate his point Netanyahu pointed to examples of their international and external aggression.
“Look at what Iran is doing today without nuclear weapons.... It’s in Gaza, it’s in Lebanon with Hezbollah giving them thousands, tens of thousands of rockets! It’s in Afghanistan, it’s in the horn of Africa, it’s in the Arabian peninsula, it’s threatening to choke the world’s oil supply by shutting the Straits of Hormuz. It’s even in south America.
“They sent children into mine fields, their own children.... They hang gays, they stone women, this is what they’re doing today without nuclear weapons. Imagine what a regime like this would do if they had atomic weapons.”
He cautioned, “The distance to Iranian nuclear capability is decreasing,” echoing a declaration by Ehud Barak, his defense minister, that “the Iranian military nuclear program is steadily approaching maturity and is about to enter the zone of immunity.”
He also warned the international community not to be deceived by Iranian participation in further negotiations, pointing out that they have already used talks as delaying tactics and now they may do so again to “run out the clock.”
Concluding his discussion of Iran, Netanyahu said, “The international community must do everything it can to stop (Iran)...and all options should be left on the table.”
Iran was not, however, the only topic the prime ministers covered.
Harper spoke of expanding and modernizing Canada’s free trade agreement with Israel, “and increasing cooperation in the area of science and technology.”
Netanyahu observed that Israel’s “economy is booming” and, “we are cooperating in unprecedented ways in technology and economy. I'd like to see even greater… trade in both directions.”
Last year bilateral trade was valued at $1.38 billion.
Regarding relations between Canada and Israel he told Harper, “It is particularly encouraging to come to Canada...and know that I stand among friends who share the same values and the same goals. You are such a friend.”
An indicator of the growing strength of Canada-Israel ties is the unprecedented number of ministerial visits to Israel. Most recently Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird and Finance Minister Jim Flaherty were in Israel at the same time.