13:31 GMT21 February 2020
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    Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman took a swipe at France, calling the peace summit scheduled for January 15 "a modern version of the Dreyfus trial" and telling French Jews "that is not your country, that is not your land. Leave France and come to Israel."

    The Israeli government, led by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, fears that the foreign ministers' meeting during the summit will allow US, French and other officials to come to a new set of decisions on the peace process, which could then be brought before the UN Security Council for a vote before US President Barack Obama's term ends January 20.

    Ministers were presented with a report that said as much during Netanyahu's December 25 meeting with his Cabinet, Haaretz reports.

    Israel passed on the first French peace summit in June and has said for months it would skip this one. Now, following the UN Security Council resolution demanding an end to its settlement projects in the West Bank, the government fears the international community will use the last days of the Obama administration to take one more step toward demanding Israel adhere to international law.

    In his December 26 comments, Lieberman smeared the entire French initiative. In likening it to the Dreyfus affair, in which French Jewish military officer Alfred Dreyfus was convicted of treason in a series of trials that relied on falsified information and pervasive anti-Semitism.

    "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, Lieberman said, Haaretz reports.

    He also called the summit "just a tribunal against the state of Israel" intended to damage Israel's security and "good name."

    Lieberman also told French Jews "if you want to remain Jewish… leave France."

    "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…. 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."

    Meanwhile, in response to the Security Council resolution, Lieberman ordered Israel's army to end all civilian contacts with Palestinian officials December 24, the Times of Israel reports. He ordered the Israel Defense Forces and the Coordinator for Government Activities in the Territories, which implements Israel's activities in the West Bank, to cease contact with political representatives of the Palestinian Authority as well as Palestinian civilians. The IDF is to end all cooperation on political and civilian matters, though they will still coordinate on security issues.

    Israel has reacted to the settlement vote with anger, recalling some ambassadors and summoning others, and canceling high-level meetings. Netanyahu blames Obama for the vote, though Obama has explicitly said the US was not behind the resolution initiative.

    White House senior adviser Ben Rhodes said December 26 that the US president was "disappointed" in Netanyahu's response, but not necessarily surprised. He also pointed out that the US had warned Israel about the consequences of its settlement-building for years.


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    summit, Palestinian peace process, resolution, Israel Defense Forces (IDF), Palestinian Authority, Avigdor Lieberman, France, Israel
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