Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says he is not currently planning to join the American president in inviting his Israeli counterpart for a visit.
“We remain steadfast friends of Israel, but every now and then we do have to point out where we disagree,” Trudeau told reporters Thursday.
Trudeau is slated to speak with Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu soon, after months of strain between the two countries.
Canada has expressed concern over the past year about rising violence and a judicial reform that Ottawa argues would undermine democracy in the Jewish state.
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Trudeau said that reform should only be made with widespread support of Israeli society, which has protested the proposal repeatedly in large demonstrations. The plan would allow Israel’s parliament to overturn decisions by the country’s Supreme Court.
“We’re also very concerned about the judicial reforms that the Israeli government is determined to move forward with,” Trudeau said in Kingston, Ont.
Netanyahu is governing through a coalition with right-wing politicians who have sought to ban the Palestinian flag and called for a village in the West Bank to be “erased” after violent clashes.
His government has also allowed the expansion of settlements that Canada recognizes as illegal under international law — a characterization Israel disputes — and it wants to allow Israel’s parliament to overturn decisions by the country’s Supreme Court.
“The violence going on right now is difficult for people across the region, both Israelis and Palestinians were calling for de-escalation and peace and working through some of the flashpoints,” Trudeau said.
“Canada has a long-standing position that settlements and the settlement process is illegal and we need to stand against that.”
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The Israeli government says its judicial reform would better balance the role of judges and elected representatives, and that the rising violence stems from Palestinian rocket attacks.
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President Joe Biden has expressed concern about increased violence in the past month between Palestinians and Israelis, but on Monday he invited Netanyahu to “soon” make an official visit to the United States.
Trudeau suggested he doesn’t plan to extend an invitation when he speaks with Netanyahu.
“That’s not on the table right now,” he said.
The two were slated to speak Wednesday, but the call was rescheduled. Trudeau last had a formal bilateral meeting with Netanyahu in February 2021 by phone, and spoke with his interim predecessor Naftali Bennett in March 2022.
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In February, senators invited the speaker of Israel’s parliament to make an official visit Canada, although no details have published on when that may occur.
This past April, Liberal MP Salma Zahid criticized her own party’s response to police violence in Jerusalem, saying Trudeau’s government needs to do beyond “bland statements” and actually create repercussions for “provocations” by Netanyahu.
“Either we stand for human rights or we don’t,” Zahid wrote on Twitter.
In May, Israeli Diaspora Affairs Minister Amichai Chikli raised eyebrows by arranging a visit to Parliament Hill without following the usual diplomatic protocols, as well as giving a speech at a private Christian college run by controversial evangelical preacher Charles McVety.
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