Netanyahu cancels planned Paris visit

Government reportedly angry over French remarks last week calling for Jerusalem to be divided.

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu cancelled a meeting with French President Nicolas Sarkozy scheduled for next week, reportedly amid anger at France for its statement last week on the final status of Jerusalem. Additionally, sources in the Prime Minister's Office said that Netanyahu wanted to distance his recent - and highly publicized - meeting with US President Barack Obama from his relations with European countries. A PMO official confirmed that Netanyahu postponed his trip to Europe because he believed preparations for the visit were incomplete. But statements released by the French Foreign Ministry provided an alternative reason for the cancellation. Ministry spokesman Frederic Desagneaux said "The declaration which the Israeli prime minister issued...derives from prejudice regarding the final status agreement," referring to Netanyahu's pledge on Jerusalem Day, last week, that Jerusalem would "never again be divided or partitioned." "In the eyes of France," Desagneaux said, "Jerusalem needs to turn into a capital for two states," emphasizing that Sarkozy made the same point last year. "Activities like destroying Palestinian houses and expulsion of Arab citizens encourage violence," the spokesperson said. "They are unacceptable, and against international law." During an official state ceremony marking Jerusalem Day on Thursday, Netanyahu had vowed that the capital would never again be divided. "Jerusalem was always ours and will always be ours. It will never again be partitioned and divided," he said while marking the reunification of the city during the Six-Day War 42 years ago. "Only under Israeli sovereignty will united Jerusalem ensure the freedom of religion and freedom of access for the three religions to the holy places," Netanyahu added. In an earlier address on Jerusalem Day, President Shimon Peres said that Jerusalem, while sacred to others, is the only capital Israel and the Jewish people have ever known. "Jerusalem is held sacred by half of mankind [but] it has been and always will be Israel's capital. We never had another and it has never been the capital of any other people."