Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper will speak at the Knesset during his upcoming visit to Israel, which will begin on January 20, Shalom Toronto reported on Wednesday.
Harper will lead a delegation of some 200 people, including Canadian journalists, the report said.
During the visit, Harper will also visit Ramallah and Jordan. This is Harper’s first visit to the Middle East since he was elected as Prime Minister in 2006.
The Canadian Prime Minister announced his visit to Israel during a speech he gave at the Jewish National Fund (JNF) annual fundraising gala Negev dinner which was held in Toronto earlier this month.
Knesset Speaker MK Yuli Edelstein (Likud) welcomed the announcement regarding Harper’s speech at the Knesset.
"I am pleased and proud to host the Prime Minister of Canada, a brave and true friend of Israel, at the Knesset,” he said Wednesday. “Canada’s governmental and public support for Israel has been unwavering and encouraging all along the way. I have no doubt that this important visit is a celebration of fraternity of both countries, and I believe it will strengthen our relationship.”
Harper’s speech at the Knesset will be the second speech by a world leader since the 19th Knesset was elected last January. He was preceded by French President Francois Hollande, who visited Israel in November and spoke at the Knesset.
United States President Barack Obama also visited Israel in the past year, but he chose not to speak at the Knesset and instead gave a public speech in front of students in Jerusalem.
There were speculations recently that Harper was planning to announce his resignation following the Israel visit, but his spokesman Jason MacDonald recently told CTV News that those reports were “absolutely false.”
“The Prime Minister intends to lead the Conservative Party into the next election,” said MacDonald. “He intends to run in 2015.”