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Canada Reaffirms Special Friendship with Israel

April 9, 2013 (JERUSALEM) - Following a warm and constructive meeting today, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Canadian Foreign Minister John Baird reaffirmed the close and special friendship that underpins the bilateral relationship between our two countries. Today, the Jewish People are masters of their own fate, like other nations, in their own sovereign, Jewish state. Like other nations, Israel has the right to defend itself, by itself.

Prime Minister Netanyahu and Foreign Minister Baird held productive discussions on a broad range of regional issues, including Iran’s nuclear program and its sponsorship of international terrorism, the crisis in Syria and the value of a constructive Turkey-Israel relationship. The leaders also discussed attempts to revitalize talks between Israel and the Palestinian Authority and expressed hope that fruitful negotiations will be forthcoming in the months ahead. Prime Minister Netanyahu welcomed Minister Baird’s offer of assistance in advancing these talks.

Prime Ministers Harper and Netanyahu have deepened and expanded Canada-Israel relations, resulting in:

  • increased bilateral agreements, such as the Mutual Recognition Agreement in Telecommunications signed in June 2012;
  • negotiations towards a modernized free trade agreement;
  • more business linkages, including in innovation;
  • marked growth in security and intelligence cooperation;
  • closer academic ties, e.g. via the May 2012 Memorandum of Understanding between the Royal Society of Canada and the Israel Academy of Sciences and Humanities; and
  • enhanced government and private-sector partnerships.

Today’s discussions also touched on energy, security, international aid and development, innovation, and the promotion of human rights globally—areas where Canadian and Israeli expertise can be leveraged to improve lives around the world. Both countries welcomed the opportunity to work towards establishing a Strategic Partnership Agreement—a work plan which will provide both countries concrete benchmarks to further deepen the bilateral relationship.

Both governments are committed to strengthening cooperation in the energy sector to advance common energy interests and contribute to jobs, growth and economic prosperity. Building on the June 2012 Statement on Cooperation in the Energy Sector between Canada and Israel, the Honourable Joe Oliver, Canadian Minister of Natural Resources, and Dr. Uzi Landau, the former Israeli Minister of Energy and Water Resources, announced last October the creation of the Canada-Israel Energy Science and Technology Fund. The Fund was created to spur the development of innovative energy technologies and processes that enable the responsible development of unconventional oil and gas resources, including commercial applications that address shared environmental challenges. The Fund will also strengthen cooperation in areas of renewable energy and energy efficiency. Leveraging investment from both countries, the Fund is expected to generate $20 to $40 million in collaborative research and development (R & D) over the next three years. Two successful Canadian R & D workshops took place in March 2013 and brought together leading Canadian and Israeli stakeholders to identify potential partnering opportunities. The first call for proposals is expected later in April 2013.

In the field of international development, Prime Minister Netanyahu and Foreign Minister Baird have proposed further cooperation between our two countries. As another example of development collaboration, Grand Challenges Canada, supported by Canada’s Development Innovation Fund, is working with Israel to create an Israeli Grand Challenges program, modeled after and mentored by Grand Challenges Canada, which is already making substantial contributions to international development.

Since 2006, there has also been a marked growth in security, defence and intelligence cooperation between Canada and Israel. Today, Prime Minister Netanyahu and Foreign Minister Baird tasked their officials with developing further initiatives to bolster the bilateral defence and security relationship in the coming months.

Economic, trade and innovation cooperation are key elements of the special relationship that exists between Canada and Israel. Prime Ministers Harper and Netanyahu established, in May 2010, a bilateral innovation agenda that led to the creation of the Canada-Israel Technology Innovation Partnership (CIIP). The CIIP supports joint projects through several funding mechanisms, including a joint call for proposals, announced in July 2012, backed by the Office of the Chief Scientist of Israel’s Economics and Trade Ministry and the National Research Council of Canada’s Industrial Research Assistance Program. The CIIP marks Canada’s first initiative under EUREKA—a collaborative European network to which Israel and Canada belong (the latter became Associate Member during Israel’s chairmanship in 2011), which seeks to enhance industrial competitiveness via support to businesses and innovation actors. Both governments are committed to practical initiatives to further scientific research cooperation. The Government of Canada has already earmarked funds for that purpose.

Foreign Minister Baird’s visit to Israel served as an opportunity for Canada and Israel to renew their historical friendship, redouble their efforts to work together to increase mutual prosperity and reiterate their shared commitment to regional and global security.

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