Netanyahu in Canada: Iran a Grave Threat

March 2, 2012  

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said on Friday that Israel has the right to defend itself against a country that wants to destroy it, referring to Iran.

Netanyahu made the comments as he began a meeting with Canada’s Prime Minister Stephen Harper in Ottawa, according to a CBC report.

Netanyahu arrived on Parliament Hill and was greeted by a military honor guard, the report said. He then said he wanted to talk to Harper about the “remarkable turbulence that is shaking the Middle East” and about Iran’s “relentless pursuit of nuclear weapons.”

“I know from many conversations that we’ve had that you share my view that this is a grave threat to the peace and security of the world and I think it is important that the international community not allow this threat to materialize,” Netanyahu was quoted as having told Harper as they held a photo opportunity in Harper’s office.

“As for Israel,” added Netanyahu, “like any sovereign country, we reserve the right to defend ourselves against a country that calls and works for our destruction.

“On that note, I can say that it is particularly gratifying to be among such good friends here in Ottawa on a cold day with warm friendship,” he concluded.

The two leaders had a short meeting, and Harper will also host a working lunch with Netanyahu. The Israeli Prime Minister will also meet with Canada’s Governor General David Johnston on Friday, the CBC said.

Netanyahu will be travelling to Washington next, where he will meet President Barack Obama on Monday. Both will deliver speeches at a policy conference of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee next week.

On Thursday it was reported that Netanyahu will press Obama for an explicit threat of military action against Iran if sanctions fail and Tehran’s nuclear program advances beyond specified “red lines.”

Harper and Netanyahu’s meeting comes in the wake of the public speculation that Israel is planning a pre-emptive strike on Iran’s nuclear facilities.

CBC noted that Harper has been strong in backing Israel’s view of Iran’s nuclear program, saying he has “no doubt” that Iran is lying when it says it is pursuing nuclear power for peaceful purposes and is not building a nuclear bomb.

Obama on Thursday called U.S. support for Israel “sacrosanct” and vowed to ensure the Jewish state retains its “military superiority.”

Speaking at a New York fundraiser, Obama said, “One of our long-term goals in that region is to make sure that the sacrosanct commitment that we make to Israel’s security is not only a matter of providing them the military capabilities they need, not only providing the sort of qualitative military edge that they need in a very tough neighborhood.”

The interim leader of Canada’s Liberal party, Bob Rae, said Friday that the meeting between Harper and Netanyahu comes at an important time.

Rae was quoted by the CBC as having said Canadians want Canada to be “an important source of advice and expertise on peace and mediation as well as on the security of Israel.”

He said steps taken with Iran should be taken multilaterally.

“None of us want to see a nuclear-armed Iran,” Rae said at a news conference on Parliament Hill. “None of us want to see an increase in tensions and conflict in the Middle East. But I think it’s very important that we look at this not simply as an issue between Israel and Iran but understand it is an issue that has much broader implications for the whole world.”

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