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Canada-Israel Relations

Canada recognized the State of Israel upon its founding in 1948, and the two countries established formal diplomatic relations on May 11, 1949.

In Israel, Canada is represented by the Embassy of Canada in Tel Aviv.

Israel is represented in Canada by an embassy in Ottawa. Israel also has consulates in Montreal and Toronto.

Canada and Israel have strong, multidimensional bilateral relations, marked by close political, economic, social and cultural ties. Support for Israel, especially its right to live in peace and security with its neighbours, has been at the core of Canada's Middle East policy since 1948. The relationship has been strengthened in recent years as evidenced by increased cooperation in several areas, including public security, defence, trade and investment, and the increased frequency of ministerial visits. Canada and Israel marked 60 years of diplomatic relations on May 11, 2009. On this occasion, Prime Minister Stephen Harper stated: “At the heart of relations between Canada and Israel is the dynamism of our shared communities. We look forward to the next 60 years and beyond.”

One of the underlying strengths of the Canada-Israel bilateral relationship lies in the extensive people-to-people ties. There are approximately 20,000 Canadian citizens living in Israel and many Canadians have family in Israel. The Canadian Jewish community, which stands at around 350,000, acts as an important bridge between Canada and Israel. These informal ties give rise to significant cooperation between our two countries in business, philanthropy and tourism.

There is a strong relationship between the Canadian and Israeli legal communities, which has resulted in regular visits by jurists and judges, as well as frequent use of Canadian legal precedents in Israeli court decisions. Canada and Israel have an active program of professional and academic exchanges, with many Canadian artists visiting Israel. A cultural and education Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) was signed in 1999.

Frequent ministerial visits in both directions are a feature of Canada-Israel relations. Most recently, Canada’s Minister of National Defence, Peter MacKay visited in January 2011 to sign an MOU on defence relations with his Israeli counterpart. International Trade Minister Peter Van Loan visited Israel in October 2010.  Former Transportation Minister John Baird visited Israel in March 2010.  Former Treasury Board Secretariat Minister Vic Toews visited Israel in January 2010. Industry Minister Tony Clement went to Israel in November 2009. Foreign Affairs Minister Lawrence Cannon visited in March and again in October 2009 (when he attended the second Israel Presidential Conference, Facing Tomorrow 2009). In addition, Chief Justice McLachlin visited Israel in September 2009. In May 2009, Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism Minister Jason Kenney visited Israel to mark the 60th anniversary of bilateral diplomatic relations. From Israel, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu visited Ottawa in May 2010. Minister of Defence Ehud Barak attended the annual Halifax International Security Forum in November 2010. Minister of Finance Yuval Steinitz visited Canada in February 2010. Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman visited Canada in June 2009.

Canada and Israel have a number of bilateral agreements in place, including one on Film and Videotape Production and on Mutual Legal Assistance. There are also a number of sub-national agreements between Israel and certain provinces, including Manitoba and Ontario.

Various bilateral agreements support Canada’s commercial relations with Israel. These include the Double Taxation Agreement (1977), the Canadian Space Agency - Israeli Space Agency MOU for Space Cooperation (March 2005), and the Canada-Israel Industrial Research and Development Foundation (CIIRDF - based on a MOU and renewed in March 2006, with a $1 million annual contribution each from Canada and Israel).

The Canada-Israel Industrial Research and Development Foundation (CIIRDF) is a binational organization established in 1994 that promotes industrial collaborative research and development projects in innovative technologies that have the potential for commercialization. It provides partnership facilitation services as well as the opportunity of potential funding support for joint industrial R&D collaborations. It has also developed close linkages between a large number of technology-based firms in Canada and Israel and encourages the participation of the academic and government research communities. The experience gained and the successes achieved under CIIRDF provided a useful model for DFAIT's International Science and Technology Partnerships Program (ISTPP).

Canada's diversified bilateral trade with Israel reflects the sophistication of both economies. Israel is Canada’s fourth largest merchandise export market in the Middle East and North Africa. 2011 marks the 14th Anniversary of the Canada-Israel Free Trade Agreement (CIFTA), a goods-only agreement. Bilateral merchandise trade has more than tripled since the CIFTA’s implementation in 1997 from $507.3 million in 1996, to a record high of $1.8 billion in 2008.

Canada’s top exports to Israel are machinery, electrical machinery, paper and newsprint, plastics, wood, and aluminium. Canada’s top imports from Israel are pharmaceutical products, electrical machinery, precious stones and metals, machinery, optical equipment, and organic chemicals.

Export Development Canada (EDC) offers all of its products and services (insurance, financing and bonding) in Israel. Israel is rated as investment grade by three international rating agencies.

March 2011 

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