France's Hollande says Israel PM turned memorial into 'poll speech'
AFP, Thursday 8 Nov 2012
France's president Hollande slams the Israeli PM Netanyahu for transforming a memorial service for a rabbi and three Jewish schoolchildren shot dead by Al-Qaed on March 19 into a electoral campaign


French President Francois Hollande has criticised Israeli Premier Benjamin Netanyahu for transforming a memorial service for Jews slain by an Islamist gunman in southwestern France into a campaign meeting.

"Netanyahu came to France to campaign and we knew that," Hollande told journalists in private remarks at the weekend which were later leaked by satirical weekly Canard Enchaine.

The two leaders last Thursday attended a highly emotional service for a rabbi and three Jewish schoolchildren shot dead by Al-Qaeda inspired killer Mohamed Merah on March 19 in the city of Toulouse.

Hollande said the Israeli prime minister, who faces legislative polls in January, had hijacked the event.

"Since I was there, he toned down his speech but it wasn't good to transform this ceremony into an electoral meeting," he told the journalists, including AFP, in the private conversation "It wasn't appropriate."

Netanyahu had compared the gunman to Nazis and warned that Israel could defend its people from those "who want to erase us from the map," and ended his speech with the slogan "Israel will Live!"

France is home to between 350,000 and 500,000 Jews, according to various estimates. Since the creation of Israel in 1948, more than 90,000 French Jews have settled there.

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