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Mulroney Attempts to Mend Fences with Pro-israel Circles in Canada

March 15, 1991
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

Prime Minister Brian Mulroney attempted to mend fences with Israel supporters when he made an unscheduled appearance at the parliamentary dinner of the Canada-Israel Committee here this week.

The dinner took place Tuesday night during the national conference of the CIC, which serves as the Canadian Jewish community’s official voice on Canada-Israel relations.

Briskly shaking the hands of as many of the 1,000 CIC delegates as he could grasp in 20 minutes, Mulroney seemed to mollify some of the anger in pro-Israel circles over External Affairs Minister Joe Clark’s remark last week in Amman, Jordan, that the Palestine Liberation Organization should play a role in Arab-Israeli peace efforts.

While the Canadian prime minister made no public remarks, he conversed briefly with Ronni Milo, Israel’s minister of police, who was keynote speaker at the affair.

Milo, a last-minute substitute for Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir, who was occupied meeting in Jerusalem this week with U.S. Secretary of State James Baker, relayed what Mulroney told him.

“I was happy to hear from the prime minister of Canada that, according to his belief, nobody should tell Israel what is good for the country,” the Likud minister said.

That was good news for supporters of Israel.

Meanwhile, outside the Capital Congress Center, where the CIC dinner was held, pro-Israel and pro-Palestinian crowds staged simultaneous demonstrations.

The demonstrators stood on opposite sides of the road, separated by police, shouting slogans and waving flags.

The pro-Israel crowd had gathered to demonstrate solidarity with the Jewish state. The Palestinians’ message was that Israel should “get out of the territories.”

Their organizer, Sala Musa, charged that Jews wield undue influence over the Western news media, producing bias against Palestinians. There are about 100 Palestinian families in Ottawa, many of them recent arrivals.

Inside the hall, Milo described the first night Israel was attacked by Iraqi Scud missiles after the Persian Gulf war began.

“If we had acted, we could have destroyed all of the Scuds in western Iraq, this I can assure you,” he said.

But “we accepted the request of the United States and waited,” he said. “I believe that, as Israelis and Jews, we will never forget that night, waiting and asking ourselves, ‘What’s next?’ “

“I can assure you that in the future we shall not allow any Arab country, any Arab leader, to attack the civilian population of Israel,” Milo vowed.

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