PM to meet with French leader Hollande in Paris

Netanyahu to travel to Paris for first meeting with French president, plans to discuss peace process, anti-Semitism.

Hollande with French Jewish leaders 390 (photo credit: reuters)
Hollande with French Jewish leaders 390
(photo credit: reuters)
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 March.
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 Hollande.
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 Council.
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 there.
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 neighboring countries.
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 discussed.