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France

Israel labels Paris peace conference new 'Dreyfus trial'

media Israel's defence minister Avigdor Lieberman pictured last May REUTERS/Ronen Zvulun

Israeli Defence Minister Avigdor Lieberman on Monday criticised an upcoming Middle East peace conference organised by France, calling it a new "Dreyfus trial" and urged French Jews to move to Israel.

Representatives of around 70 countries are due to attend the January 15 conference which is aimed at restarting long-stalled Israeli-Palestinian peace efforts.

Israel has strongly opposed it, instead calling for direct talks with the Palestinians.

"This is not a peace conference. It's a tribunal against the state of Israel," Lieberman told members of his Yisrael Beitenu party, according to a recording released by the party.

"A conference whose whole point is to harm the security of Israel, its good name -- a trial against Israel."

"It's a Dreyfus trial in a modern version, what they're preparing there in Paris for January 15, with one difference. Instead of one Jew being on trial, it will be the entire Jewish people and the state of Israel."

Alfred Dreyfus was a French Jewish army captain wrongly convicted in 1894 of espionage and treason whose ordeal became a symbol of injustice and anti-Semitism.

The conference will follow Friday's UN Security Council resolution demanding Israel halt settlement building in Palestinian territory, a vote that has deeply angered the Israeli government.

On Sunday, Lieberman also urged French Jews to move to Israel, saying it would be the most appropriate and "only answer we can give that plot (conference)".

After naming recent attacks in France targeting Jewish residents, he said the conference "adds to that atmosphere, and it might be time to tell the Jews of France: 'That's not your country, it's not your land, leave France and come to Israel'."

"If you want to stay Jewish and keep your children and grandchildren Jewish, leave France and move to Israel."

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and other Israeli officials have also responded with especially harsh language to the Security Council resolution which passed after the United States abstained from voting.

By deciding not to veto the move, the United States enabled the adoption of the first UN resolution since 1979 to condemn Israel over its settlement policy.

Peace efforts have been at a standstill since a US-led initiative collapsed in April 2014.

The Palestinians have more recently pursued international diplomacy, saying years of talks with the Israelis have not ended the near-50-year occupation of the West Bank.

Many have warned that Israeli settlement building is fast eroding the possibility of a two-state solution to the conflict.
 

 
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