ZOA Criticizes French President Sarkozy’s Interference In Israeli Affairs By Having Urged Netanyahu To Sack FM Lieberman
July 1, 2009

 Sarkozy also demands removing Jews

from Judea/Samaria & dividing J’lem





The Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) has strongly criticized French President, Nicholas Sarkozy, for blatantly interfering in Israeli internal affairs by urging visiting Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu to replace Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman with another figure more acceptable to European and other leaders. He also compared Lieberman to Jean-Marie Le Pen, the far-right, anti-Semitic, anti-immigrant French politician.


The New York Times reports as follows:


“Sarkozy told Netanyahu that he should remake his government so that he, Ms. Livni and the Defense Minister, Ehud Barak, could produce historic breakthroughs for Middle East peace. He was reported to have said, ‘I’ve always received Israeli foreign ministers. I met with Tzipi Livni in the Élysée Palace, but with that one I simply can’t meet. I’m telling you, you need to get rid of that man. Get him out of the government and bring in Livni. With her and with Barak you can make history.’ Netanyahu reportedly replied: ‘No need to exaggerate. Lieberman is a very nice person, and in private conversations he speaks differently’ to which Sarkozy was reported to have replied, ‘In private conversations, Jean-Marie Le Pen is also a nice person.’ Mr. Sarkozy is said to have added of Mr. Lieberman, ‘Sometimes when I hear what he says I have the urge to pull out my hair.’ He placed his hands on his head and grabbed his hair (Ethan Bronner, ‘Sarkozy Comments on Israeli Minister Make Waves,’ New York Times, July 1, 2009).


This is not the first time that President Sarkozy has shown a willingness to lecture Israel on vital matters affecting its security. In June 2008, in an address to the Knesset, Sarkozy called for the deportation of Jews inhabiting communities in Judea, Samaria and eastern Jerusalem, rendering them judenrein, as well as for Israel to divide Jerusalem (‘Nuclear Iran is totally unacceptable,’ Jerusalem Post, June 23, 2008).


ZOA National President Morton A. Klein said, “The ZOA strongly criticizes the blatant interference by President Sarkozy in Israeli internal affairs that are solely the prerogative of the elected Israeli government. We cannot imagine that President Sarkozy, on any other Western leader, would dare to voice such statements and seek to determine the composition of another democratic government in the case of any other country or even the Palestinian Authority.


“This sort of interference is unacceptable everywhere, yet when the country in question is Israel, even people who call themselves friends of Israel feel free to make an exception. Yet, how would President Sarkozy react if a visiting Israeli head of state told the French President to remove one of his senior Cabinet ministers?  President Sarkozy must surely be aware of the exceptional breach of respect and protocol he committed in making these statements and should apologize for having done so.


“As his remarks last year to the Knesset show, this is not the first time in which President Sarkozy saw it fit to lecture Israel on what it must do. It is to be regretted that the warm personal feeling for Israel that Sarkozy has often expressed does not translate into a policy of respect towards Israel’s sovereign independence and its elected government.


“The Oslo peace process was designed to test the peaceful intentions of Palestinians as peace partners. Instead, Palestinian society is now divided between rival terrorist movements Fatah and Hamas. People forget that Oslo started with ‘Gaza and Jericho First’ to test the Palestinian commitment to peace. The late Yitzhak Rabin called it a reversible experiment. Oslo, we all know, failed disastrously, yet the world acts as if it succeeded, that Palestinians delivered and that the main problem is that Israelis are not delivering. Sarkozy urging Lieberman’s replacement is testimony to this. Lieberman is not the problem – the problem is the anti-peace actions of Mahmoud Abbas, Fatah, Hamas and a large portion of the Palestinian Arabs themselves.


“Unfortunately, it seems that the failed and disastrous Oslo process, even though caused by Palestinian extremism and non-acceptance of Israel, has accelerated the tendency of foreign leaders to conduct themselves towards Israel as though they are addressing a vassal state or a petitioner, not a sovereign independent country. Some foreign governments have gone beyond criticism to interference and greatly increased pressure on Israel to conform to their dictates. This is despite the fact that they frequently urged Israel to take ‘risks for peace,’ with the assurance that they would stand by Israel if things did not work out.


“Israel took those risks by giving away half of Judea and Samaria and all of Gaza while enduring extraordinary amounts of terrorism against its citizens. But instead of now fulfilling their promise and supporting Israel, some foreign governments have increased their pressure on and public criticism of Israel, instead of publicly criticizing and pressuring the Palestinian Authority to abide by its commitments to end terrorism and the incitement to hatred and murder that feeds terror.


“This is a matter of important principle: the ZOA’s attitude would be the same if a foreign leader had called for the removal of a left-leaning Israeli Cabinet minister. Jewish organizations and others, regardless of political affiliation or leaning, should condemn President Sarkozy’s disrespectful intervention in Israeli affairs.”

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