Harper: I'm not here to single out Israel on settlements
Canada was not aiming to condemn Israeli building in settlements over the Green Line amid ongoing peace negotiations with the Palestinian, visiting Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper said Tuesday.
The Canadian leader expressed his unapologetic support for Israel noting the 25,000 Canadians he said reside in Israel.
Harper, when asked about the settlements issue, said there were matters Canada and Israel disagreed on, and Canada's position on those issues was easy to find.
"I'm not here to single out Israel for criticism, there are more than enough to do that, they don't need me," he said at a joint press conference alongside Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu.
However, Netanyahu said Canada was in disagreement with Israel on this matter.
Harper said he has rejected requests from the Palestinians and "half the countries around the world" to criticize and isolate Israel over the settlements issue.
"I find it interesting that yesterday in the Palestinian Authority no one asked me to single out the PA for any criticism about governance or human rights, I'm only asked to single out Israel," he said.
Harper said one of the lessons Canadians have learned is "that when someone is a small minority in the world, one goes out of one's way to embrace them, not single them out for criticism. That is a fundamental Canadian ethic, which is why many Canadians understand the statement I'm making."