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.

Demonstrating the importance of the relationship, Prime Minister Harper travelled to Israel in January 2014 with a delegation which included 6 Ministers as well as Canadian business leaders and many prominent members of the Canadian Jewish community. During his visit to Israel, PM Harper became the first sitting Canadian Prime Minister to address the Knesset (Parliament).  

A key deliverable of the visit was the signing of the Canada-Israel Strategic Partnership MOU, designed to further strengthen the bilateral relationship in several areas including: energy, security, international aid and development, innovation, and the promotion of human rights globally - and enhance existing arrangements. Currently, Canada and Israel are particularly focussed on improving the trade relationship between the two countries.

One year after this historic visit, in January 2015, then-Minister of Foreign Affairs John Baird travelled to Israel where he and his counterpart, Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, signed a Joint Declaration of Solidarity and Friendship  to rededicate Canada and Israel to meet the objectives outlined in the Strategic Partnership. In addition, the two Ministers signed: 

Minister of Transport Lisa Raitt also visited Israel in January 2015, at which time she signed a Declaration of Intent on Aviation Security, the Canada-Israel Air Transport Agreement, and a Memorandum of Understanding on Transportation with Mr. Yisrael Katz, Israel’s Minister of Transport and Road Safety. 

From Israel, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu visited Canada in March 2012, then-President Shimon Peres paid a state visit to Canada in May 2012, Minister of Intelligence and Strategic Affairs Yuval Steinitz visited in October 2013, and Minister of Defence Moshe Ya’alon visited in November 2013. 

Various bilateral agreements support Canada’s commercial relations with Israel. These include the Air Transportation Agreement (2015), a renewed and funded Science & Technology Agreement, the Double Taxation Agreement (1977), and the Canadian Space Agency - Israeli Space Agency MOU for Space Cooperation (March 2005).

Israel is an important economic partner for Canada in the Middle East and North Africa region, with a full range of business possibilities including trade, investment, science & technology and innovation. The Canada-Israel Free Trade Agreement (CIFTA), in force since 1997, has led to a tripling in the value of merchandise trade between our countries to C$1.5 billion in 2014. On January 21, 2014, Prime Minister Harper and Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu announced the launch of negotiations to modernize and expand the Canada-Israel Free Trade Agreement (CIFTA), and negotiations are ongoing.

A key element of the commercial relationship is collaboration in science, technology and innovation (STI). Bilateral STI relations are strong and based on a significant, 20-plus year history of close collaboration to jointly fund bilateral industrial and basic research. Currently, a number of Canadian government organizations and the provinces of Ontario and Saskatchewan are funding collaborative research and development with Israel, and Nova Scotia recently established a programme to enhance R&D partnerships with Israel. DFATD is responsible for the Canada-Israel Agreement on Industrial Research and Development, which commits both parties to providing up to $1M per year towards industrial R&D with Israel. This funding is managed by an arms-length delivery entity, the Canada-Israel Industrial Research and Development Foundation.     

Canada’s top merchandise exports to Israel in 2014 (valued at $449 million) were aircraft, electrical machinery, paper/paperboard, precious stones and metals, cereals and vegetable products. Canada’s main merchandise imports (valued at $1.1 billion) were pharmaceutical products, electrical machinery and equipment, precious stones and metals, machinery, plastics, chemicals, and scientific and precision instruments.

Israel has a relatively open investment environment. Foreign investors mostly enjoy equal treatment with nationals, though foreign investment is restricted in some sectors (such as defense) and requires government approval in other sectors (such as banking and insurance). Israel has robust infrastructure, a highly-skilled workforce, and it benefits from its Qualified Industrial Zone agreements with Jordan and Egypt.

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.

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.

March 2015

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