French President Francois Hollande on Thursday lambasted Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, telling reporters that the Israeli leader was "obsessed with Iran" and that he had "turned the memorial ceremony for the Toulouse shooting victims into an election rally".
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"We knew Netanyahu was coming to France as part of his election campaign," Hollande was quoted by the French newspaper Le Canard Enchaine as telling reporters during a briefing en route to Beirut. "The event in Toulouse was supposed to have two parts – a memorial ceremony, and then speeches. Because I was there, he softened his speech a little, but it was inappropriate to turn the ceremony into an election rally."
During his speech, the Israeli prime minister claimed that anti-Semitism in France was on the rise, called on French Jews to leave their country and immigrate to Israel. He then burst into rendition of "Am Yisrael Chai" onstage.
Even during the ceremony itself, the French president seemed to chide the Israeli leader. In the address he delivered just after Netanyahu, Hollande admitted that anti-Semitism was indeed a problem in France, but emphasized: "French Jews belong in France".
According to Le Canard Enchaine, Hollande also told reporters on the way to Beirut that Netanyahu was "obsessed with Iran", and said that he and the Israeli leaders spoke about nothing besides the Iranian nuclear program during their lunch meeting.