Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Sarkozy to Netanyahu: Get Rid of Lieberman

Nissan Ratzlav-Katz Sarkozy: Get Rid of Lieberman

During their meeting last week in Paris, French President Nicolas Sarkozy urged Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu to
replace Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman with opposition leader Tzipi Livni. Netanyahu's office declined comment, but the Foreign Ministry response was less diplomatic. "With her and [Defense Minister E Barak you can make history," Sarkozy told Netanyahu, according to a Monday night report on Israel TV's Channel 2 News. "I have always accepted Israeli foreign ministers, and I loved to have Tzipi Livni here at the Elysee [Pala, but with [Lieberma I can't." The French leader allegedly also made a dismissive hand gesture when mentioning the Israeli Foreign Minister. Livni, he added, made a strategic mistake in refusing to join Netanyahu's cabinet.

In addition to Netanyahu, three Israeli officials reportedly heard the undiplomatic statements by Sarkozy.

In response, Prime Minister Netanyahu apparently tried to mollify the French leader by saying that Lieberman's public persona is different than the impression one gets of him in private conversation. Sarkozy retorted by saying that far-right, anti-Semitic French politician Jean-Marie Le Pen of the National Front is also "pleasant" in private conversations.

"You can't compare the two men," Netanyahu said. "Lieberman is not Le Pen." The French leader then denied he was trying to compare them at all.

This week, the Prime Minister's Office refused to comment on the content of Netanyahu's talks with Sarkozy, adding that Foreign Minister Lieberman has the Prime Minister's full support.

Lieberman's public relations advisor, Tzahi Moshe, commented Monday that, if true, Sarkozy's comments constitute a "serious and intolerable... intervention of the president of a respected democratic country in the affairs of another democratic country."

In a statement from the Foreign Ministry Monday night, officials insisted, "We expect every political institution in Israel to condemn this blatant intervention of a foreign country in our private affairs, no matter what its political stance."

Minister of National Infrastructure Uzi Landau, a leader in Lieberman's Israel Beiteinu party, reacted to the Channel 2 report on Tuesday morning in an interview on IDF Radio.

"It's difficult for me to believe that a leader of a friendly country could make such remarks," Landau said, "but were I the Prime Minister, and such comments were made in my presence, I would bang on the table and object. That's how a prime minister should conduct himself to defend his country's honor."

"Not every frog-eater can interfere with Israel's sovereignty." -- MK Ben-Ari

Knesset Member Michael Ben-Ari (National Union) said Tuesday in response to the French president's statements that "the Prime Minister should have made it clear that not every frog-eater can interfere with Israel's sovereignty." Adding that "the French chutzpah" was not the main problem, Ben-Ari observed, "Netanyahu failed to understand that Sarkozy and Obama do not just want to replace Lieberman with Livni, but to turn Netanyahu into Livni."

MK Ahmed Tibi of the Arab nationalist Ra'am-Ta'al party had a very different reaction. "The international community has started to absorb the danger of the fascism being taught by Lieberman," he said.

In May of this year, Foreign Minister Lieberman made his first diplomatic tour of Europe. He visited Paris and met with the Secretary General of the Presidency, Claude Guéant, but not with President Sarkozy himself.

Comment: Western arrogance-never in a life time would any French President allow outsiders ,especially Israel, to tell them how and who may govern. France, the same country who continued to do business with SH of Iraq while the world was trying to topple him-who has the higher moral authority?

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