Israel, Canada Form Strategic Partnership

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JERUSALEM, Israel -- Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper concludes his four-day state visit to Israel Wednesday. He held a joint press conference with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu where they announced a strategic partnership.

"Canada and Israel both want to see a Middle East that is more secure, stable and free, but the challenges that are facing the region are serious indeed," Netanyahu said. "And to better meet those challenges together and to operate in the field of international affairs as a whole, our two foreign ministers have signed a Memorandum of Understanding formalizing the Israeli Canadian strategic partnership."

Asked if he supported construction beyond the "green line," Harper responded, "I've said repeatedly I'm not here to single out Israel for criticism. You know we have more than enough people in the world ready to do that. You don't need me. I'm here to talk about our shared values and interests."

Harper, who is an evangelical Christian, addressed the Israeli Knesset on Tuesday. He told parliamentarians Canada supports Israel because it's the right thing to do, a moral imperative and of strategic importance.

During a meeting with Israeli President Shimon Peres, Harper called his nation the "polar opposite of Israel," with "much geography but very little history."

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