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Chirac Reassures French Jews

French Jewish leaders emerged from a meeting with President Jacques Chirac with reassurances that Franco-Israeli relations were on a positive track.

The leaders requested last week’s meeting to voice their concerns that Chirac’s Middle East tour in late October had created a chill between France and Israel.

Chirac, who took a pro-Arab stance during his trip, called for the creation of a Palestinian state and said that Israel should return the Golan Heights to Syria, positions that have been rejected by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

The trip upset French Jews, who feared a repeat of the tense period in Franco- Israeli relations after President Charles de Gaulle imposed an anti-Israeli embargo after the 1967 Six-Day War.

Jean Kahn, president of the Consisitoire, which tends to the religious needs of French Jews, quoted Chirac as telling the Jewish officials that he considered Netanyahu a “true personal friend.”

Kahn said the French leader pledged that his “friendship for Israel would continue to exist.”