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Israel says Sarkozy advised government to sack FM

Israel says Sarkozy advised government to sack FM

The president of France advised Israel's prime minister to fire ultranationalist Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, senior Israeli government officials said Tuesday.
The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not free to disclose the contents of private conversations.
Lieberman's spokesman Tzahi Moshe said the comments, "if true," represented "intolerable" meddling in Israel's internal affairs.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's spokesman, Nir Hefetz, would not confirm or deny the report. But he told Army Radio that "the prime minister doesn't feel he needs advice on his government from outside sources" and "holds Foreign Minister Lieberman in great esteem."
French President Nicolas Sarkozy's office wouldn't immediately comment on his discussions with Netanyahu in Paris last week. It is not unusual for the French leader to discuss countries' internal political matters with foreign government leaders.
Lieberman has ordered his subordinates not to publicly respond further to the remarks to prevent diplomatic tensions, one of the Israeli officials said.
Sarkozy told Netanyahu that "you must get rid of that man" and replace him with the more moderate former foreign minister Tzipi Livni, the officials said.
Netanyahu told the French leader that in private meetings Lieberman "sounds differently," than he does in political speeches but Sarkozy retorted that in private talks, Jean-Marie Le Pen _ the far-right French politician _ is "a very nice man," the officials said.
Lieberman's appointment has been ill-received internationally because of his hard-line positions on peace and positions widely seen as racist.
In May, his party unsuccessfully tried to advance a proposal to strip the citizenship of Israelis who do not pledge loyalty to the state _ a proposal viewed as aimed at Israel's Arab minority.
He has also harshly criticized the U.S.-led peace talks launched by former President George W. Bush in Annapolis, Maryland in 2007, though he has said he would reluctantly accept an earlier peace plan known as the "road map" that never got off the ground.


Updated : 2021-04-23 23:52 GMT+08:00