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Canada Takes a Stand at G8 Summit

Samara Greenberg

Is Canada replacing the United States’ role as Israel’s number one supporter? It might be. During last week’s G8 summit in France, Canada’s Prime Minister Stephen Harper blocked a G8 statement that would specifically call for Israeli-Palestinian talks to begin with negotiations based on an Israeli return to its 1967 borders with mutually agreed land swaps.

In the final version of the statement, the leaders call for the immediate resumption of peace talks but there is no specific mention of the 1967 borders: “Negotiations are the only way toward a comprehensive and lasting resolution to the conflict,” it reads. “We urge both parties to return to substantive talks…. To that effect, we express our strong support for the vision of Israeli-Palestinian peace outlined by President Obama on May 19, 2011.”

Canadian PM Stephen Harper at the 2011 G8 summit.

In addition to standing up for Israel, Harper confirmed at the summit that Canada will not contribute new funds along with the other members of the G8 to support countries transitioning to democracy in the Middle East and North Africa. Harper reportedly does not view Egypt and Tunisia as priority nations since they are not geographically close to Canada, nor are they strategically tied.

Since the White House appears content to follow its allies, Washington should follow Canada’s lead under Prime Minister Harper. Aside from Harper’s ability to stand strong against pressure when it comes to Israel, his decision to refrain from pledging more money to the “Arab Spring” countries is fiscally wise. This is not to say the United States shouldn’t give money to transitioning countries, but that the U.S. should ensure its money is allocated efficiently to the strategically important countries alone, and that Europe does its part as well.