Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman.
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)
The Middle East peace conference planned by the French for January 15 will be similar to the antisemitic trial of French Jewish artillery officer Alfred Dreyfus in 1894, Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman told his Yisrael Beytenu faction Monday.
Liberman said UN Security Council Resolution 2334 was “awful, unnecessary and harms any chance to reach dialogue with the other side,” and that he was worried that such misguided international efforts would continue with the French conference.
He noted that the timing of the conference was problematic, coming five days before US President-elect Donald Trump is to be sworn in, and three months before elections are scheduled in France, in which current President Francois Hollande is not running.
“It is not a peace conference, but a tribunal against Israel that is intended to harm Israel and its good name,” he said. “It will not just be a trial against Israel, but a modern Dreyfus trial. Look at how all of France has been voting against us. We know the direction and the goal of the conference. It adds to the atmosphere in France against Jews.”Liberman then recounted a series of recent antisemitic incidents in France and said, “This is the time to tell French Jews: ‘This is not your country or your land and it’s time to leave.’” The defense minister said what mattered now was reaching understandings with the Trump administration on Iran, the Palestinians, settlements and Syria.
Asked by The Jerusalem Post
whether he blamed the UN resolution on Bayit Yehudi leader Naftali Bennett’s insistence on advancing settlement legislation, he said it was “not connected to legislation” and “what is done is done.”
But Liberman said it was “wrong to focus on declarations and annexation.” He said the reason Israel has been limited from building in Judea and Samaria is not because of a lack of legislation but because of disagreements with American administrations on the extent of construction.
In response, Sammy Ghozlan, the president of the French National Bureau for Vigilance against Antisemitism, said Liberman’s comments on the French initiative are “somewhat exaggerated.”
“The French conference isn’t a tribunal aimed at judging or punishing Israel,” he said. “French authorities are hoping to get the two sides together in an effort to bring about a peaceful solution. It is true that the French have done more than just trying to get the two sides talking, and have also taken a one-sided position in an attempt to force a solution. I agree. Still, this is by no means a tribunal, as we saw in the UN these last days, and the comparison to the Dreyfus trial isn’t correct.”
Reacting to Liberman’s call for French Jews to leave, Ghozlan said, “Many of the French Jews, their parents or their grandparents, arrived to France in order to escape antisemitism or rejections in the countries of origin, be it in Europe, North Africa or elsewhere.
They know where they stand, and it is up to them to decide if and when to leave. They have enough experience to take this decision on their own, at the right time.’’ He added that several Israeli prime ministers and ministers made that same call over the years, but that this was not the time for such a global decision on the part of French Jewry.
“A considerable number of French Jews have moved into the big cities, where they feel more safe,” he said. “Many others have left for the US, Canada and of course, Israel.
But they do not need such declarations to make their decision and to tell them if they feel appreciated or not in their homeland.”
An official source in Paris told the Post
that “all French citizens have their place here in France, and all French citizens – whatever their religion is – should feel safe here. We will do everything it takes to guarantee that.
“The aim of the conference has not changed – to reiterate the support of the international community for the two-state solution, offering a package of benefits to encourage the sides to reopen negotiations,” the source added.