It was no surprise that the G-8 countries endorsed President Obama’s call for Israel and the Palestinians to return to peace negotiations while specifically mentioning the controversial Middle East policy speech that he gave last week. But what was surprising was that the final communiqué of the summit did not mention the president’s insistence that the 1967 lines be the starting point for such talks. The reason for this was the stubborn refusal of one of the G-8 leaders to agree to pressuring Israel in this fashion.
According to the Jerusalem Post, Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper was “adamant” about eliminating any mention of 1967 in the G-8 statement even though other leaders wanted to include it.
As the Post noted, Canada was denied a 2-year term on the United Nations Security Council last year largely because of its reputation as a stalwart friend of Israel since Harper became prime minister five years ago. By backing up Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu’s rejection of the 1967 lines, the Canadian delivered a stunning rebuke to his American ally.
The G-8’s endorsement of negotiations is an implicit rejection of the Palestinian attempt to avoid peace talks via a UN resolution endorsing Palestinian statehood. But none of the other countries present at the summit committed to joining the United States in pledging to vote against such a measure. When combined with Canada’s ability to stand off Obama on the mention of 1967, this failure means the summit cannot be considered a diplomatic success for the president.