Don't miss

Replay


LATEST SHOWS

IN THE PAPERS

France priest terror attack: Is Europe helpless?

Read more

BUSINESS DAILY

Another drop in iPhone sales, so why are Apple shares rising?

Read more

IN THE PAPERS

Horror in the church: Priest 'assassinated by barbarians'

Read more

MEDIAWATCH

Online reactions to French church attack

Read more

THE DEBATE

France church attack: Priest killed in Normandy, assailants dead

Read more

FOCUS

Video: Inside a migrant hotspot in southern Italy

Read more

ENCORE!

'Oh my Gad!' French comedian Gad Elmaleh on his American dream

Read more

THE DEBATE

Democratic Convention: Can the Democrats now unite around Hillary Clinton?

Read more

THE INTERVIEW

'Lady Liberty': The story behind the pictures

Read more

France

Sarkozy’s alleged comments on Lieberman spark controversy

Latest update : 2009-06-30

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu issued a statement defending his ultranationalist Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman (photo, at left) following Israeli media reports that French President Nicolas Sarkozy urged Netanyahu to fire Lieberman.

REUTERS - French President Nicolas Sarkozy has urged Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu "to get rid of" Israel's ultranationalist Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, Israeli media reports said on Tuesday.


Sarkozy's office had no immediate comment on the remarks Israeli newspapers and Channel 2 television attributed to him from his talks last Wednesday in Paris with Netanyahu. "You must get rid of this person," the Haaretz newspaper and Ynet website quoted Sarkozy as telling Netanyahu.


Netanyahu's office issued a statement saying "in light of the latest media reports", the prime minister voiced his "full confidence" in Lieberman during a meeting with ambassadors from European Union countries.


The reports said Sarkozy compared Lieberman, accused of racism by Israeli Arab lawmakers, with French far-rightist Jean Marie Le Pen, but retracted the remark after Netanyahu countered that the foreign minister left a different impression in private conversations.


A spokesman for Lieberman, leader of the ultranationalist Yisrael Beitenu party, said that if Sarkozy made the comments, they would amount to "intolerable" meddling in Israeli affairs.


Lieberman has angered Israel's Arab minority by questioning their loyalty to the Jewish state and suggesting some of their towns be ceded to Palestinian jurisdiction in exchange for Jewish settlements in the occupied West Bank.


The reports about Sarkozy's purported remarks put a spotlight on a rift between Israel and the West over Netanyahu's rejection of calls for a total halt to Jewish settlement building.


Lieberman, himself a settler, has said settlements are no obstacle to peace.
 

Date created : 2009-06-30

COMMENT(S)