Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu will travel to Paris next week for his first
ever meeting with French President Francois Hollande.
This will be
Netanyahu’s 12th visit to Europe, and his third to France since taking office in
2009. In addition to meeting Hollande, Netanyahu is scheduled to visit Toulouse
and the Jewish school where a terrorist killed four people in
France is a member of the P5+1 conducting negotiations with Iran –
along with the US, Russia, China, Germany and Britain – and Tehran’s nuclear
program is expected to be at the center of the discussions with
In addition, the two are expected to discuss the stalemated
diplomatic process with the Palestinians, as well as the PA’s bid to gain the
status of a non-member observer state at the UN.
Former French president
Nicolas Sarkozy backed that idea, though he was opposed to the Palestinian
effort to gain full UN membership status in 2011 through the Security
The two are also expected to discuss the uptick in anti-
Semitism in France. The French government, according to officials in Jerusalem,
has been very outspoken against the anti-Semitic incidents
Netanyahu’s visit to Paris will come just a few days after he
meets EU’s foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton, who he is scheduled to arrive
Wednesday in Jerusalem.
Those talks, too, are expected to focus on Iran
and the Palestinian issue.
Ashton arrived in Jordan Monday on the first
leg of a five-day visit to the Middle East. On Tuesday she will travel to
Beirut, before coming to Israel on Wednesday.
In addition to meeting
Netanyahu, she is also scheduled to meet President Shimon Peres and Defense
Minister Ehud Barak. She is also expected to meet PA President Mahmoud Abbas and
PA Prime Minister Salam Fayyad.
Ashton bore the brunt of heavy criticism
from Israel’s leaders over the weekend for condemning a new housing project in
Jerusalem’s Gilo neighborhood.
Netanyahu said on Sunday that Israel would
not put restraints on building in its capital, and Foreign Minister Avigdor
Liberman said “these automatic condemnations indicate a fundamental
misunderstanding of the reality of the region.”
A few days earlier,
Liberman sent Ashton a letter thanking the EU for adopting a new set of
sanctions on Iran. Liberman wrote that there “remain certain disagreements”
between the EU and Israel on various issues, and that he does not hesitate to
make those known.
“Therefore,” he wrote. “I find it fitting to provide
public expression to my gratitude and to our appreciation for your determination
on preventing Iran’s nuclear proliferation plans.”
Liberman met Monday
with visiting Bulgarian President Rosen Asenov Plevneliev and Foreign Minister
Nikolay Mladenov and expressed concern that the Syrian conflict was spreading to
The recent car bomb attack in Beirut that killed a
top Lebanese security official, and the foiled attack in Jordan against shopping
centers and western diplomatic targets, is the result of the situation in Syria
and if it does not end quickly, he warned, could lead to “aftershocks that will
turn into a large regional earthquake.”
In a related development,
Netanyahu met Monday with Quartet envoy Tony Blair for one of their periodic
meetings. The meeting was private, and no details were provided about what was