Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu to visit Canada in early March (THE GLOBE AND MAIL) CAMPBELL CLARK OTTAWA 02/21/12)
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Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is planning to visit
Stephen Harper March 2, as Israel faces warnings not to rush into
launching military strikes against Iran.
Mr. Harper has been a hawk on Iran, insisting the country is trying
to develop nuclear weapons and calling it the single biggest threat
to the world’s security.
But with the United States and other allies warning an Israeli strike
would be “premature,” the question now is whether Mr. Harper will
join them in asking Israel to cool its jets.
Around the world, warnings to Israel that they should not strike yet
were amplified over the weekend. Many experts warn a unilateral
Israeli strike could draw in the U.S.
The top U.S. military officer, General Martin Dempsey, chairman of
the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said in an interview with CNN that an
Israeli airstrike would be “premature.”
Earlier this month, British Foreign Secretary William Hague said it
would not be “wise” for Israel to take military action. He argued the
solution is diplomatic and political, and will be achieved through
Mr. Harper’s office confirmed that Mr. Netanyahu will visit Canada in
early March. The visit will come on Mr. Netanyahu’s way to Washington
to meet U.S. President Barack Obama on March 5 and attend the
conference of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, a pro-
Israel lobbying group.
The stop in Ottawa will mark a visit of a close ally for Mr. Harper,
who has staunchly defended Israel, watering down resolutions urging
peace talks at last year’s G8 summit and opposing efforts to have a
Palestinian state recognized by the UN. His foreign affairs minister,
John Baird, spent five days in Israel in early February.
Mr. Netanyahu’s government has floated the idea of a pre-emptive
military strike to prevent a nuclear-armed Iran, And Mr. Harper has
argued that if Iran had nuclear weapons, they’d use them.
“In my judgment, these are people who have a particular, you know,
fanatically religious worldview, and their statements imply to me no
hesitation of using nuclear weapons if they see them achieving their
religious or political purpose,” Mr. Harper said in a CBC interview
Canada has been quick to join allies in imposing sanctions, and
prohibitions on many transactions by the U.S. And European nations,
along with a European Union threat to stop all purchases of Iranian
oil, are believed to be taking a toll on Iran’s economy.
Whether that will lead Iran to stop nuclear-weapons development is
unclear. Tehran has insisted its nuclear program is civilian and
peaceful, but Western allies consider that a smokescreen. The
International Atomic Energy Agency has detailed past activities that
indicate efforts to develop weapons and warned of a “possible
military dimension” to its current nuclear program.
Iran has offered new talks on its nuclear program. But political and
military leaders there have also threatened to respond to any strike
by closing the Strait of Hormuz, through which much of the world’s
oil is shipped, and there are fears they would use terrorist clients
to strike Western targets. (© Copyright 2012 CTVglobemedia Publishing
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