After choosing to be “very deliberate and cautious,” following U.S. President Donald Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and his promise to move the country’s embassy there, Canadian Conservatives seem ready to speak definitively on the issue.
Earlier this month at the Manning Networking Conference in Ottawa, Alberta United Conservative Party Leader Jason Kenney and Conservative MP Erin O’Toole addressed the ongoing controversy that erupted last December, following Trump’s announcement.
“I can’t even understand why this is a debate. Not only is Jerusalem obviously and objectively the capital of the State of Israel since its creation, but it is the ancient capital of the Jewish people,” Kenney said.
O’Toole – who chose to be “cautious” and not “rush into any response” in December – said at the conference that recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital shouldn’t negate support for a two-state solution.
“Some countries have consular presence in east and west Jerusalem, so I think that’s where Canada needs to go and the whole question of the embassy is something we should watch and see how the Americans proceed,” O’Toole added.
Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer told The CJN that he’s proud to lead a party that has always stood with Israel and recognized it as one of Canada’s strongest allies.
“I don’t think this is about what other politicians are saying, I think it’s about recognizing the obvious fact that Jerusalem is the capital of Israel,” Scheer said. “Israel has the right to determine where its capital is.”
Referring back to the statement from Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland in the days that followed Trump’s declaration, Global Affairs Canada spokesperson Adam Austen said the government’s position is that “the status of Jerusalem can be resolved only as part of a general settlement of the Palestinian-Israeli dispute.”
Scheer added that consideration should be given to the fact that Jerusalem is home to the Knesset and the Supreme Court.
“I don’t think there has been a serious peace proposal that would ignore that fact,” he said.
When it comes to Trump’s promise to move the American embassy to Jerusalem, and whether Canada would follow suit under a Conservative government, Scheer said he would “absolutely want to work with the government of Israel on the best way to move forward on that. In the meantime, there are steps that we can take. Many of our allies have a consular presence in Jerusalem. Canada does not. That is something we can progress as we move forward.”
Requests for comment from NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh and Green Party Leader Elizabeth May were not immediately returned.