Israel's Defense Minister Blasts French Peace Summit as 'Modern Dreyfus Trial'

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Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman at Knesset. December 2016.
Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman at Knesset. December 2016.Credit: Photo: Emil Salman

Israel's Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman lashed out Monday at France for its attempt to organize an international peace summit on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and urged France's Jews to come to Israel.

Haaretz reported Sunday that Israel fears that the French peace summit, set for January 15, will lead to an additional UN Security Council vote, this time focusing on the peace process.

"This is a modern version of the Dryefus trial," Lieberman said about the peace summitt, referencing the 19th-century case of a Jewish French military officer Alfred Dreyfus – an artillery officer of Jewish heritage whose conviction on trumped-up treason charges was criticized as having been motivated by anti-Semitism. The case created a schism in French society and he was later exonerated.

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"There is only one difference between what they are planning in Paris [and the Dreyfus affair], last time there was only one Jew on the stand and now all of the people of Israel and the entire state of Israel" are on the stand, the defense minister said.

The defense minister also referenced the French presidential election this spring, saying "it is clear that the French government is heading for an election, this is poor timing for a peace summit, this is really just a tribunal against the state of Israel. This is a summit whose entire goal is to damage Israel's security and harm its good name."

Lieberman also took the opportunity to urge France's Jewish community to move to Israel. "This might also be the time to tell French Jews – that is not you country, that is not your land. Leave France and come to Israel. That is the only response for this scheme. That's what it is – a scheme, not an initiative. With all the difficulties it entails, if you want to remain Jewish and make sure your children and grandchildren remain Jewish, leave France and make Aliyah to Israel."

Haaretz reported Sunday that Israel fears that the United States and France want to advance another move on the Israeli-Palestinian issue before the Obama administration wraps up its term in January.

A senior official in Jerusalem said that during Sunday’s security cabinet meeting, ministers were presented with an assessment that during the international foreign ministers’ meeting scheduled for January 15 in Paris as part of the French peace initiative, a series of decisions on the peace process will be made. These will immediately be brought to the UN Security Council for a vote and will be adopted there before January 20.

In retaliation for a resolution passed by the United Nations Security Council on Friday condemning settlement building in the West Bank, Lieberman ordered Israeli officials to cut all civil and diplomatic contacts with the Palestinian Authority.

Reuters contributed background to this report

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