Escalating Middle East violence puts Canada-Israel defence pact in the spotlight

The Canadian Press
Associated Press

OTTAWA - The outbreak of violence and exchange of rocket fire over the Gaza border has put Canada's defence pact with the Israeli government in the spotlight.

Over the last two years, officials in Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's government have been given private assurances that Ottawa was behind them.

Defence Minister Peter MacKay went so far as to say in 2011 that "a threat to Israel is a threat to Canada."

The agreement is non-binding, unlike the NATO charter which requires member states to come to each other's defence.

Netanyahu has long said Israel will manage its own defence, and MacKay played down the potential impact of the agreement in the current crisis, saying "they're very far away from any such decision-making."

Rocket fire has killed three people south of Tel Aviv and injured another 52, while at least 15 Palestinians have died.