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Canada recognized the State of Israel upon its founding in 1948, and the two countries established formal diplomatic relations on May 11, 1949. Canada and Israel have developed an exceptional bilateral relationship based on mutual cooperation in a number of key strategic areas.
Canada and Israel have strong, multidimensional bilateral relations, marked by close political, economic, social and cultural ties. Support for Israel, especially its right to live in peace and security with its neighbours, has been at the core of Canada’s Middle East policy since 1948.
One of the underlying strengths of the Canada-Israel bilateral relationship lies in the extensive people-to-people ties. There are approximately 35,000 Canadian citizens living in Israel and nearly 90,000 Canadians, many with family in Israel, travel to the country every year. The Canadian-Jewish community, which numbers around 350,000, serves as an integral bridge between Canada and Israel. These informal ties give rise to significant cooperation between our two countries in business, philanthropy, culture and tourism.
The bilateral relationship is further strengthened by the Canada-Israel Strategic Partnership MOU, a mutually beneficial agreement that facilitates deeper cooperation in several areas, including energy, security, international aid and development, innovation and the promotion of human rights globally. This partnership document provides the framework for a number of more specific bilateral agreements.
Canada is represented in Israel by the Embassy of Canada to Israel in Tel Aviv. The Government of the State of Israel is represented in Canada by an embassy in Ottawa and consulates in Montréal, Quebec, and Toronto, Ontario.
Various bilateral agreements support Canada’s commercial relations with Israel. These include:
- Convention for the Avoidance of Double Taxation (2016)
- Air Transportation Agreement (2016), the amendment is currently applied, but not yet ratified
- Canada-Israel Agreement on Bilateral Cooperation in Industrial Research and Development (originally signed as a Memorandum of Understanding in 1994, and renegotiated as a Treaty in 2006 which automatically renews every 5 years, last renewed in 2017)
- Canada-Israel Free Trade Agreement (CIFTA) (1997, modernized 2019)
- The CIFTA was Canada’s first FTA outside of North America, following the NAFTA (1994). Its modernization improves access to the Israeli market for Canadian companies, and new inclusive trade provisions on gender, small and medium-sized enterprises and corporate social responsibility, as well as new labour and environmental protections, signals the importance of ensuring that the benefits and opportunities that flow from trade and investment are widely shared.
Israel is an important economic partner for Canada in the Middle East and North Africa region, with a full range of business possibilities including trade and investment. Since the original CIFTA entered into force in 1997, two-way merchandise trade has more than tripled, totalling more than $1.6 billion in 2020. Canadian direct investment in Israel reached $515 million and Israeli direct investment in Canada reached $617 million in 2020.
A key element of the commercial relationship is collaboration in science, technology and innovation (STI). Bilateral STI relations are strong, developed through more than 20 years of close collaboration. The Government of Canada has partnered with Israel to support joint research, development and commercialization projects. The governments of Ontario and Quebec have also established programs to support companies and researchers pursuing partnerships with Israel.
Global Affairs Canada is responsible for the Canada-Israel Agreement on Bilateral Cooperation in Industrial Research and Development, which commits both parties to provide up to $1 million annually toward industrial R & D with Israel.
Canada’s top merchandise exports to Israel from 2018 to 2020 include Nuclear Reactors, Boilers, Machinery and Mechanical Appliances, Electrical or Electronic Machinery and Equipment, Aircrafts and Spacecrafts, and Optical, Medical, Scientific and Technical Instrumentation. Canada’s main merchandise imports in from 2018 to 2020 include Nuclear Reactors, Boilers, Machinery and Mechanical Appliances, Optical, Medical, Scientific and Technical Instrumentation, Electrical or Electronic Machinery and Equipment, and Pharmaceutical Products.
Canada is committed to supporting peace and security for Israel and the region. The Canadian Armed Forces contribute to three multinational missions to this end: supporting security assistance to the Palestinian Authority through the United States Security Coordinator for Israel and the Palestinian Authority; implementing the security provisions of the Egyptian-Israel Treaty of Peace through the Multinational Force and Observers mission based in the Sinai Peninsula; and contributing to the United Nations Truce Supervision Organization which monitors compliance with respect to both the United Nations Disengagement Observer Force in the Golan Heights and the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon.
Partnerships and organizations
To develop effective responses to today’s most pressing global challenges, Canada and Israel work closely in multilateral fora, such as:
- International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO)
- Open Government Partnership (OGP)
- Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD)
- Pacific Alliance
- United Nations (UN)
- United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO)
- World Trade Organization (WTO)
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