Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister Baird backs Obama approach to Mideast, Israel’s Borders

Is Canada jumping ship and abandoning its pro-Israel policy, the lone supporter among the G8 nations?

Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird on Wednesday backed U.S. President Barack Obama's Mideast approach. Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird on Wednesday backed U.S. President Barack Obama’s Mideast approach. (The Canadian Press)

Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird says Canada does support a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict – based on pre-1967 borders.

It’s a statement which goes further than Prime Minister Stephen Harper has so far been willing to say publicly.

“We support a two-state solution, we support, obviously – that solution has got to be based on the ’67 borders. With the mutually agreed upon swaps, as President Obama said,” Baird said today in response to reporters’ questions after a Conservative caucus in Ottawa.

When asked to clarify if he meant the pre-1967 borders, Baird was unequivocal: “We’ve said that’s Canadian foreign policy, yes.”

Ahead of last week’s G8 Summit in France, U.S. President Barack Obama said the “starting point” of a new round of Middle East peace talks should be the establishment of separate Israeli and Palestinian states based on the borders as they existed before the war of 1967, with negotiated land swaps.

However, no reference to that specific point was included in the G8’s final declaration. Several international news agencies reported that a mention of the 1967 borders was removed at the insistence of Harper.

At the conclusion of the summit, Harper was asked if he did, in fact, insist the language be changed.

Harper would only say: “We are pleased the statement coming out of the G8 is a balanced statement.”

When asked if he supported Obama’s approach, Harper replied: “I am comfortable with, very comfortable, we’re very much at ease with President Obama’s speech, but you can’t cherry pick elements of that speech.”

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