Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was originally not scheduled to attend the Paris “solidarity” march, and only announced he was going after Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman revealed he was going as well, not wanting to let a high-profile visit pass ahead of the March elections.
But Netanyahu wasn’t a welcome guest, and French President Francois Hollande explicitly asked him not to come, concerned he would make the whole visit about Israel and the Palestinians. When Netanyahu insisted he was coming anyhow, Hollande made a point to publicize his invitation to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.
The Hollande government was working on a UN resolution trying to kickstart peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians, and Netanyahu has loudly opposed it. Predictably, Netanyahu and other Israeli officials visiting France today urged French Jews to leave the country for Israel, arguing France isn’t safe.
That’s been a long-standing policy of the Israeli right, which believes it needs major Jewish immigration to sustain a majority, and has regularly targeted France as the nation with the largest Jewish population in the world, outside of Israel and the United States. With Hollande desperate to portray himself as having the security situation in order, it’s understandable that he wouldn’t want Netanyahu, et al. trying to drum up emigration.
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