Israel’s Lieberman urges Jews to leave France
JERUSALEMIsraeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman on Dec. 26 called on French Jews to leave their country to protest a Paris-hosted conference planned for next month aimed at restarting Palestine-Israel peace talks, Israeli daily Yedioth Ahronoth has reported, according to state-run Anadolu Agency.
The Israeli government has repeatedly stated in recent months that it would not participate in the conference, which is scheduled to be held on Jan. 15, 2017, with the participation of representatives from 70 countries.
Speaking at a meeting of his right-wing Yisrael Beiteinu party, Lieberman reportedly said: “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,” Lieberman added, in reference to the planned conference.
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said Dec. 27 that he hopes the upcoming Mideast conference in France will set a timetable to end settlements, as Israel moves ahead with new housing unit construction in east Jerusalem, despite the recent U.N. Security Council resolution condemning construction there.
Abbas’s comments on Dec. 27 were his first public remarks since the U.N. vote on Dec. 23, during which the 15 countries of the U.N. Security Council passed a resolution demanding that “Israel immediately and completely cease all settlement activities in the occupied Palestinian territory, including east Jerusalem.”
“The decision lays the foundation for any future serious negotiation ... and it paves the way for the international peace conference slated to be held in Paris next month and we hope this conference comes up with a mechanism and timetable to end the occupation,” Abbas told a meeting of his Fatah party. “The [resolution] proves that the world rejects the settlements, as they are illegal, in our occupied land including East Jerusalem.”
The Israeli Foreign Ministry said Dec. 27 that the country was “reducing” ties with nations that voted for the U.N. resolution.
Refuting reports that ties had been suspended, Foreign Ministry spokesman Emmanuel Nahshon said in a message to journalists that Israel was “temporarily reducing” visits and work with embassies, without providing further details.
Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely said Dec. 27 she was concerned that Israel would miss opportunities to explain its position by cancelling visits, but that she supported making clear “you can’t take Israel for granted.”
Israel also postponed this week’s visit of Ukrainian Prime Minister Volodymyr Groysman following the landmark U.N., officials said Dec. 26.
U.S. President-elect Donald Trump on Dec. 26 chided the United Nations as “sad,” just days after the U.N. Security Council adopted the Israeli resolution.
“The United Nations has such great potential but right now it is just a club for people to get together, talk and have a good time. So sad!” Trump said in a post on Twitter.