Israeli defence minister: Jewish people should leave France due to Middle East peace summit 'plot'

Strong words come after UN vote on Israeli settlements

Jon Sharman
Wednesday 28 December 2016 13:14
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Avigdor Lieberman made the comments in a party address
Avigdor Lieberman made the comments in a party address

Israel's defence minister has urged Jewish people living in France to leave the country and move to Israel after criticising a planned Middle East peace summit there as a "modern-day Dreyfus trial".

Avigdor Lieberman called the summit, designed to get the Israelis and Palestinians back around the negotiating table, a "tribunal against the state of Israel" and said Jewish people in France should emigrate "if you want to remain Jews".

Albert Dreyfus, a Jewish artillery officer, was convicted of passing military secrets to Germany in 1894 but later exonerated after evidence emerged of a miscarriage of justice by military officials. The Dreyfus Affair prompted Emile Zola's famous open letter J'accuse.

According to Ynetnews, Mr Lieberman told a meeting of the Yisrael Beytenu party, which he leads: "There's only one difference. This time, instead of the defendant being one Jew, it will be the entire nation of Israel and the state of Israel.

"This summit's entire purpose is to undermine the state of Israel's security and tarnish its good name. It adds to the difficult climate that exists in France anyway against Jews," he said on Monday.

"Perhaps it's time to tell the Jews of France — this isn't your country, this isn't your land. Leave France and come to Israel. That's the only response to this plot. If you want to remain Jews and keep your children and grandchildren Jewish, leave France and make aliyah to Israel."

France has repeatedly tried to revive the peace process this year, holding a preliminary conference in June which saw the United Nations, European Union, United States and major Arab countries gather to discuss proposals without the Israelis or Palestinians present.

The original plan was to hold a follow-up conference before the year's end with the Israelis and Palestinians, to see whether the two sides could be brought back to negotiations. The meeting was re-scheduled for 15 January.

Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu Calls UN 'Joke' and 'Moral Farce'

Israel, which regards the US as the chief broker in the Middle East, has long maintained that only direct negotiations with the Palestinians can lead to peace and sees France's efforts as a diversion. It declined its invitation.

The French Foreign Ministry said the conference was designed to "re-affirm the international community’s commitment to two sides, living side by side in safety and security and to re-emphasise how crucial the [two-state] solution is", according to the Times of Israel.

Mr Lieberman's comments came after the UN Security Council passed a resolution condemning Israeli settlement construction in the West Bank and East Jerusalem.

In a rare move the United States declined to use its veto.

In response, Israel has suspended working ties with 12 countries, cut off aid to Senegal and summoned numerous ambassadors to its foreign ministry in Jerusalem.

It has said it will not abide by the resolution, which called the settlement-building a "flagrant violation of international law".

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu reportedly phoned the foreign minister of New Zealand, which sponsored the motion, to say he saw it as a "declaration of war".

Israeli municipal authorities cancelled a vote on new settlement proposals on Wednesday as US Secretary of State John Kerry was due to lay out his vision for ending the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

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