Canadian Foreign Minister John Baird
Canadian Foreign Minister John BairdHerzilya Conference

Canadian foreign minister John Baird, visitng Israel this week, stressed his country's strong support of Israel.

“Israel has no greater friend in the world than Canada,” Baird said at the Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial on Monday.

Speaking at the 12th annual Herzliya Conference later that evening, Baird called the delegitimization and demonization of Israel the "new anti-Semitism."

Baird also said: "Canada does not stand behind Israel; Canada stands shoulder to shoulder with Israel," which he repeated during a meeting with President Shimon Peres.

After his meeting with Peres, Baird told reporters, “whether it is rockets raining down on Israeli schools, or the constant barrage of rhetorical demonization, double standards and delegitimization, Israel is under attack.” 

Baird and Finance Minister Jim Flaherty are slated to spend several days meeting with their counterparts in Israel and with leaders of the Palestinian Authority.

On Monday, the duo met with PA chairman Mahmoud Abbas, Prime Minister Salam Fayyad and other senior officials in Ramallah. During the meeting Baird expressed Canada's position that the unilateral PA statehood bid at the UN was “profoundly wrong.”

Baird also backed Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's position, telling PA officials it was time to return to bilateral face-to-face negotiations with Israel, without any preconditions.