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Israeli official urges French Jews move to Israel

Avigdor Lieberman strongly opposed the France-sponsored January 15 conference [AFP]

Date of publication: 27 December, 2016

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Israel's Defence Minister said French Jews should move to Israel as he criticised a France-sponsored conference aimed at reviving peace negotiations.
French Jews should move to Israel, the Israeli defence minister said on Monday as he criticised an upcoming Middle East peace conference organised by Paris.

Avigdor Lieberman strongly opposed the France-sponsored January 15 conference aimed at restarting long-stalled Israeli-Palestinian peace efforts, describing it as a new "Dreyfus trial".

"This is not a peace conference. It's a tribunal against the state of Israel," Lieberman told members of his Yisrael Beitenu party, despite representatives from 70 nations due to attend. 

"A conference whose whole point is to harm the security of Israel, its good name - a trial against Israel."

"It's a Dreyfus trial in a modern version, what they're preparing there in Paris for January 15, with one difference. Instead of one Jew being on trial, it will be the entire Jewish people and the state of Israel."

Alfred Dreyfus was a French Jewish army captain wrongly convicted in 1894 of espionage and treason whose ordeal became a symbol of injustice and anti-Semitism.

Lieberman urged French Jews to move to Israel, saying it would be the most appropriate and "only answer we can give that plot (conference)".

After naming recent attacks in France targeting Jewish residents, he said the conference "adds to that atmosphere, and it might be time to tell the Jews of France: 'That's not your country, it's not your land, leave France and come to Israel'."

"If you want to stay Jewish and keep your children and grandchildren Jewish, leave France and move to Israel."

But the negative sentiments were not reflected across the Palestinian leadership.

Senior Palestinian official Saeb Erekat, a former peace negotiator, told AFP that France aims through the conference to revive the peace process and throw its weight behind "a two-state solution".

The conference will follow Friday's controversial UN Security Council resolution demanding that Israel halt settlement building in Palestinian territory, a vote that has deeply angered the Israeli government and prompted Tel-Aviv to hit back at those who voted in favour.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and other Israeli officials have responded with especially harsh language to the resolution which passed after the United States abstained from voting.

By deciding not to veto the move, the United States enabled the adoption of the first UN resolution since 1979 to condemn Israel over its settlement policy.

Peace efforts have been at a standstill since a US-led initiative collapsed in April 2014.

The Palestinians have more recently pursued international diplomacy, saying years of talks with the Israelis have not ended the near-50-year occupation of the West Bank.

Many have warned that Israeli settlement building, which is already deemed illegal under international law, is speedily eroding the possibility of a two-state solution to the conflict and the progress to peace between the conflicting parties.

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