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(photo credit: AP [file])
Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni on Thursday slammed disparaging comments about Jews made last week by Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko.
Lukashenko, in a nationally broadcast radio press conference, discussed the situation in the rural town of Bobruisk.
"Well, obviously, it is a Jewish town," he said. "The Jews do not care for the place they live in; look at Israel, I have been there."
Lukashenko said the town was reorganized after the Jews left, and called for Jews "with money" to return there.
Livni condemned the comments, saying, "The role of leadership is to fight anti-Semitism wherever it raises its ugly head, all over the world, not to encourage it. Anti-Semitism is primarily an indicator of the society in which it appears and of its leaders."
The Foreign Ministry summoned Belarus Ambassador Igor Lacnia to Jerusalem Thursday to register what was described as a "strong condemnation."
The ministry considered recalling Israel's ambassador to Belarus, who is currently in Israel on vacation, but in the end decided against it, sufficing with the protest to Lacnia.
Lukashenko's offensive comments, which Israeli officials say have since been removed from any public record, caught ministry officials by surprise. He is not known for anti-Semitism, they said, and there have been very few anti-Semitic incidents in Belarus over the last few years.