French Group Seems to Forgive Netanyahu for Declining Invite

French Jewish leaders appear to have made peace with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu after he spent his only evening in Paris with the French branch of his Likud Party.

During a recent trip to France, the Israeli premier angered Jewish community leaders when he declined to attend a traditional dinner for visiting Israeli leaders. But Netanyahu agreed to meet at his hotel with a delegation from CRIF, the umbrella organization of secular French Jewish organizations.

According to a spokeswoman, CRIF President Henri Hajdenberg told Netanyahu during their brief meeting why French Jewish leaders felt slighted.

The prime minister promised to dine with CRIF representatives on his next visit to France.

The brushoff had been all the more controversial given the extreme hard-line stance of Jacques Kupfer, president of France-Likud.

Kupfer once said he regretted the assassination of Yitzhak Rabin because “he deserved to be tried for what he did.”

Last week, the CRIF’s Hajdenberg told the daily Le Monde that Netanyahu “has unfortunately allowed himself to be maneuvered into supporting an event organized by a marginal group in the Jewish community.”

CRIF Vice President Marcel Goldstein said, “It was a major political blunder in behavior towards the country which is hosting him and the Jews of that country.”

Jewish sources said Netanyahu chose to spend time with France-Likud representatives because he wanted to thank them for raising considerable funds for his campaign and because CRIF had supported the previous Labor government’s peace policies.

Some 600,000 Jews live in France.

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