Canadian prime minister addresses Israeli Knesset

Jan. 20, 2014 at 2:39 PM
| License Photo

JERUSALEM, Jan. 20 (UPI) -- In a speech to the Knesset, Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper said Monday his nation would stand by Israel "through fire and water."

Harper, who is in the middle of a four-day Middle East tour and already visited the West Bank city of Ramallah and the biblical town of Bethlehem, is widely regarded as one of the most personally supportive western leaders of Israeli interests, the Jerusalem Post reported. That was very much on display during Harper's speech to Israeli lawmakers alongside his counterpart, Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu.

"You are a great friend of Israel and the Jewish people," Netanyahu said to Harper at an unusual welcoming ceremony held at his office. "I am not just saying that, I mean it deeply from the bottom of my heart, and I am speaking for all of the people of Israel."

Harper told lawmakers Canadians share Israel's hope Palestinians will create a viable democratic state but pledged Canada would only recognize such a state after Israel did.

"Through fire and water, Canada will stand with Israel," Harper said.

Earlier Monday Harper he met with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas in Ramallah, the Ma'an News Agency reported.

Business delegations from both sides met to discuss joint ventures and investments, the official Palestinian news agency Wafa reported. Harper pledged more than $60 million to Palestine's private sector during the stop, Maclean's reported.

Earlier Monday, Harper visited the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem, Ma'an said.

Local journalists alleged Harper's bodyguards assaulted them as they tried to report on his visit.

Cameraman Mousa al-Shaer told Ma'an the plan was for Harper to enter the church first and journalists to follow. However, the bodyguards prevented the journalists from entering the church and assaulted them, Shaer said.

Like Us on Facebook for more stories from UPI.com  
Related UPI Stories
Latest Headlines
Top Stories
Greek referendum: 'No' vote leads early results, opinion polls
Russian resupply spacecraft docks onto ISS to deliver needed provisions
Islamic State stronghold of Raqqa targeted heavily in airstrikes
Maine reports first fireworks fatality since 2012 legalization
Third disturbance in four days erupts at Arizona prison