OTTAWA – Ensuring the security of Israel is a core component of Canada’s Middle East strategy, including the fight against the militants of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, says Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland.
Part of that strategy, Freeland said Monday, is shoring up Lebanon and Jordan — countries facing a massive influx of refugees from Syria displaced by fighting between various factions in that country’s long civil war.
“In our Middle East strategy, we are also making meaningful contributions to stabilize Lebanon and Jordan not least by welcoming more than 40,000 Syrian refugees to Canada,” Freeland told a major meeting of the World Jewish Congress in New York.
Canada’s assistance to Lebanon and Jordan is part of a three-year, $1.6-billion contribution to dealing with the humanitarian challenge posed by the rise of ISIL and the displacement of millions of people in the Middle East.
“I mention this particular Canadian contribution to the region because, as we all know, the stability of these countries is inextricably linked to the security of Israel. And that is a core international value of Canada’s.”
Freeland also cited Canada’s participation in the anti-ISIL multinational naval mission known as Command Task Force 150 as part of Canada’s contribution to Israel’s security.
“Programs like these contribute to Israel’s safety and security and that is a core Canadian international objective.”
The minister called ISIL a “death cult” that will be defeated.
“When Canada works to counter extremism and terrorism, particularly in the Middle East, Israel is always a natural partner and a close ally,” she said.
The speech is one of Freeland’s first major public pronouncements on Israel since she replaced Stephane Dion in the portfolio in January.
The Liberals remain as aligned with Israel after a decade of steadfast and vocal support from the Harper Conservatives, but Dion was openly critical of some Israeli policies such as the construction of settlements.
Freeland’s message earned her strong applause from the organization, which represents Jewish organizations in 100 countries.
“Canada is strong ally and close friend of the Jewish state, continuing a mutually beneficial partnership that has advanced our two democracies’ shared values and interests for almost 70 years,” she said.