Recognize Palestine, Israel; End Terrorism Palestinians: Canada

By Graham, Bill | Canadian Speeches, March 2002 | Go to article overview

Recognize Palestine, Israel; End Terrorism Palestinians: Canada


Graham, Bill, Canadian Speeches


Israel is called on to recognize legitimate Palestinian aspirations and seek a negotiated peace to end Middle East violence. In his first major public speech as foreign affairs minister, Bill Graham reiterates Canada's support for the creation of "a viable, independent and democratic Palestinian state" and the surrender of Israeli-occupied lands in return for peace. But Canada is also backing repeated urgings of the Palestinian leadership to end terrorist attacks by freezing the assets of terrorist groups and prohibiting their fund raising in Canada. Canada's strong and historic support for Israel and its continuing close relationship is seen as an important element in Canada's global fight against terrorism. Text of a speech as prepared for delivery to the Canada-Israel Committee, Ottawa, March 6, 2002.

Thank you for inviting me to speak to you on the occasion of the l7th Policy Conference of the Canada-Israel Committee [CIC]. It is a privilege for me to be here. The development of policy is a complicated process, one in which government and civil society must engage together. The Canada-Israel Committee fulfills this role with distinction and devotion. As representatives of the important relationship between Canada and Israel, you underpin that vital bond and form its most dynamic human expression. We are all grateful to you for your efforts: we all have an interest in ensuring the vitality of Israel and admire the resilience and determination of its people, who have established democratic institutions in very difficult circumstances.

While I am addressing this forum for the first time as Minister of Foreign Affairs, I feel that I am surrounded by colleagues and friends. I have a personal appreciation for the CIC's work with Canadian parliamentarians, work that enriched my own parliamentarians' knowledge and awareness of Israel's people, places and politics.

In my own case, I first visited Israel in 1996 as a Member of Parliament under the aegis of the Canada-Israel Committee. All of us, on that trip, were struck by the dynamism of the Israeli people. We shared daily experiences with Israelis from all backgrounds, from the north to the south of the country. Our visit to the Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial was an exceptionally moving experience: the memorial documents, and the suffering of the Jewish people, serves as a reminder of the crucible from which the modem State of Israel was born. No outsider, in my view, can ever understand the enormity of that suffering, or the nature of the Israeli state, without trying to come to terms with its powerful message.

Today, however, none of us can ignore how difficult a moment this is for all who have close ties to the Middle East. Since the collapse of the peace process in September 2000, the breakdown in security and horrific increase in terror attacks have shaken all who seek both peace and security of Israel.

The impact of terror on everyday life was brought home to us here in North America last September. The sense of security that we have enjoyed on this continent since the fall of the Berlin Wall 12 years ago has evaporated. As a consequence, we have a new resolve that we in Canada will use all means at our disposal to prevent global terrorist networks from hijacking the very principles of our democratic societies -- such as freedom of movement and expression -- in their avowed attempt to destroy us.

Only six months have passed since the attacks on the United States, yet in this time we have witnessed fundamental and unforeseen shifts in global relationships. Indeed, history may record September 11 as a turning point in shaping the international order for the start of the 21st century. I would like, therefore, to take this opportunity to give you a sense of both the continuity and changes in Canada's foreign policy outlook since this fateful event, and then to offer you some views on the conflict in the Middle East and Canada's bilateral relations with Israel. …

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