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Sarkozy explains snipe on Netanyahu

JERUSALEM (JTA) — French President Nicolas Sarkozy was quoted as saying he called Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu a "liar" after being sidelined on the Shalit deal.

Israeli media reported Thursday that Sarkozy, who was embarassed by the publication of an unflattering private discussion about Netanyahu that he had with President Obama at the G-20 summit in Cannes, met Jewish leaders in Paris two weeks ago to make amends.

According to Haaretz, Sarkozy said he had been frustrated by Israel’s failure to involve France in the Oct. 18 repatriation of Gilad Shalit from Gaza, where the Israeli army conscript had been held for more than five years as a Hamas hostage. Shalit has French as well as Israeli nationality, and Sarkozy had campaigned for his release.

Israel’s Channel Two television said that Sarkozy, who is considered a lifelong friend of the Jewish state, was considering a visit to Jerusalem next year in which he would demonstrate his continued good will toward Netanyahu.

Israeli and French officials had no immediate comment on the report.

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