French lawmakers pay condolence calls in Jerusalem


JERUSALEM (JTA) — A delegation of French political leaders visiting Israel paid condolence calls to the families of the children and rabbi killed in the attack on a Jewish school in Toulouse.

The members of the French parliament are in Israel through March 30 under the auspices of Project Interchange, an educational institute of the American Jewish Committee and MedBridge Strategy Center, a French NGO devoted to enhancing understanding and ties with Mediterranean countries.

The participants, a cross-section of conservative French political and opinion leaders, including leaders of French President Nicolas Sarkozy’s center-right party, the Union for a Popular Movement, also visited the graves in Jerusalem of the Toulouse shooting victims — Rabbi Jonathan Sandler and his young sons Arieh and Gabriel, and Miriam Monsonego, the 7-year-old daughter of the school’s  headmaster.

The program, which is designed to provide leaders of the two main French political parties with a firsthand understanding of Israel, was modified in the aftermath of the attack last week on the Ozar Hatorah school. The program includes meetings with influential figures across Israel’s political and social spectrums, including senior Israeli and Palestinian leaders.

French Socialist party leaders visited Israel on a similar program last May.

"The ties between Israel and France being particularly strong, this trip is an opportunity for me to show our country’s attachment to the State of Israel — an attachment which the tragedy of these past days in Toulouse has highlighted,” said Guy Teissier, chairman of the National Defense and Armed Forces Commission in the French National Assembly and mayor of Marseille.


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