Bassem Awadallah, the director of the King's office, said King Abdullah hopes to persuade Mr. Harper to not only get “more engaged” in the Middle East peace process, but to take a more balanced position than the staunchly pro-Israeli tack he has adopted so far.
“We'd like Mr. Harper to listen to the other side of the story,” Mr. Awadallah said, adding that Canada's increasingly close relationship with Israel provides it with an opportunity to “leverage” those ties into pressure on the Jewish state to end its 40-year-old occupation of the West Bank. “Friends of Israel can encourage it to do the right thing more than countries that are not friends with Israel.”
This ought to be amusing. As Canadians have had the opportunity to experience, Harper's a little weak in the listening area. Remember, this is the PM whose comment about Israel's temper tantrum invasion of Lebanon last year was that Israel was "acting in a measured fashion". (I'd love to see what this man's idea of a ruler is)
However, Harper's part of the "Israel can do no wrong" crowd. He doesn't dare make such criticisms of Israel - it'll disrupt Bush Jr's fantasies about "The Apocalypse" happening in the Middle East, followed by "The Rapture" - and pissing off his masters in Washington isn't on PMSH's list of things he wants to do.
However, it will be interesting to see how the "Foreign Affairs Lite" time of Harper and Mackay handle the coming visit with Jordan's King coming to Canada for a visit.
Personally, I think Harper should listen very carefully to what Jordan's King has to say - he might be something of an autocrat himself (Kings often are...), but he sounds a lot more tuned into reality than our current government:
In an exclusive interview at his royal complex in the Jordanian capital, the King said Western leaders need to understand that the Palestinian issue is the root of many of the crises plaguing the Middle East – linked to problems as seemingly diverse as the anti-U.S. insurgency in Iraq, the recent violence in Lebanon and Iran's rise as a regional power – and they should use their influence to solve it in a balanced way.
My guess is that Harper's going to do nothing, and Jordan's visit will be like a hand in a bucket of water - remove it and you'd never know the hand was ever there.