Hollande gesturing wildly, 370.
(photo credit: REUTERS/Mohammed Dabbous)
French President François Hollande is not welcome in the Knesset, Speaker Yuli
Edelstein declared on Wednesday.
Hollande had decided to speak to
university students, not the Knesset, during his visit to Israel in three weeks,
and Edelstein responded to the snub in kind.
“Whoever disrespects the
Knesset does not deserve the Knesset’s respect,” Edelstein wrote on
“International leaders cannot belittle the Knesset, the elected
parliament of the State of Israel, and ignore it.
As speaker of the
Knesset I am determined to protect the dignity of our nation and its
representatives, the MKs. I will not allow Israeli democracy to be humiliated
and turned into a doormat.”
Previous French presidents Nicolas Sarkozy
and Jacques Chirac gave speeches at the Knesset, and Hollande was scheduled to
do so as well, but he canceled.
Explaining why no speech by Hollande at
the Knesset was reason enough to refuse a meeting with the French president,
Edelstein said, “There are 119 other MKs.
If Hollande chose to speak to
students, imagine how those MKs would feel if he came and met with me and we had
our picture taken together.”
New French Ambassador Patrick Maisonnave
will not be invited to any official Knesset ceremonies, nor will other French
dignitaries or ministers visiting here.
“There are plenty of events in
universities. I’m sure the French officials will be too busy to find time for
the Knesset,” Edelstein remarked sarcastically.
US President Barack
Obama, on his visit here, also chose to address students and not the
Edelstein said he was disappointed then, too, but the difference
was that Obama had visited Israel shortly after the government was formed, and
the Knesset was disorganized.
A French Embassy spokeswoman said she was
“surprised” by Edelstein’s reaction, because Hollande’s schedule had not yet
“There is no need to react like this,” she said. “The
president wants to show his attachment to Israeli democracy and its
representatives and wants to go to the Knesset. We are in touch with the Knesset
to find the best time for [Hollande] to come, working with the Knesset’s
scheduling constraints. We’re working on options and trying to be