‘We have a very, very good re­la­tion­ship’

Is­raeli PM gets on just fine with Trudeau

The Guardian (Charlottetown) - - CANADA - THE CANA­DIAN PRESS

Ben­jamin Ne­tanyahu, long seen as a close friend and ally of Stephen Harper, says he has since struck up a very good re­la­tion­ship with the for­mer prime min­is­ter’s new Lib­eral suc­ces­sor.

The Is­raeli prime min­is­ter, in Davos this week for the World Eco­nomic Fo­rum, said he and Justin Trudeau had a “great” meet­ing at an ear­lier in­ter­na­tional gath­er­ing in Paris.

“We have a very, very good re­la­tion­ship,” Ne­tanyahu said.

Strong, un­wa­ver­ing sup­port of Is­rael was long a for­eign pol­icy pil­lar for the Con­ser­va­tive govern­ment un­der Harper, who in Is­rael in 2014 fa­mously promised that Canada would stand with the Jewish state through fire and wa­ter.

Trudeau has pledged sim­i­lar sup­port for Is­rael, al­though he is greeted with skep­ti­cism from some cor­ners of Is­raeli sup­port­ers in Canada. Not so Ne­tanyahu, who in­sisted he has no mis­giv­ings about the Lib­er­als.

That’s even af­ter Trudeau promised to pull Cana­dian fighter jets out of the bat­tle against the mil­i­tants of the Is­lamic State of Iraq and the Le­vant — a de­ci­sion the Is­raeli leader in­sisted Thurs­day was en­tirely Canada’s to make.

The con­flicts in the Middle East have come up re­peat­edly at the Davos meet­ing, in­clud­ing min­utes be­fore Trudeau took the stage Wed­nes­day for his key­note ad­dress. Iran’s for­eign min­is­ter, sit­ting on the same stage Trudeau and Ne­tanyahu would each soon oc­cupy, ar­gued there was no mil­i­tary so­lu­tion to the cri­sis, only a political one.

Trudeau has been pub­licly pressed twice in Davos on his de­ci­sion to with­draw the six CF-18s tak­ing part in the bomb­ing mis­sion. Twice, he has cited Canada’s mil­i­tary ex­per­tise in train­ing se­cu­rity and gath­er­ing in­tel­li­gence, the re­sult of a decade spent fight­ing in Afghanistan.

“We def­i­nitely have much to con­trib­ute on help­ing lo­cal mili­tias and lo­cal troops be more ef­fec­tive in the di­rect fight,” Trudeau said in a ses­sion with CNN host Fa­reed Zakaria.

“If there’s one thing that re­cent his­tory has taught us, it’s that ul­ti­mately con­flicts like this need to have their res­o­lu­tion on the ground with peo­ple who ... want to take their coun­tries back from ter­ror­ists.”

On Thurs­day, Trudeau was asked about what Canada planned to do about the Syr­ian refugee cri­sis —specif­i­cally its root causes. Coun­tries need to cre­ate a sit­u­a­tion in Syria where refugees can re­turn home if they wish, he said.

“Yes there’s a need for se­cu­rity and mil­i­tary en­gage­ment, and Canada’s com­mit­ted to con­tin­u­ing as part of the coali­tion en­gaged in mil­i­tary ac­tion against the Is­lamic State, for ex­am­ple — al­though we will be pulling out our six fighter jets,” Trudeau said.

“There are other ways that we will be en­gag­ing mil­i­tar­ily.”

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