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Israel says France advised government to sack FM

 Israel's Foreign Minister Avigdor lieberman arrives at the weekly cabinet meeting in Jerusalem, Sunday, June 28, 2009. (AP Photo/Gali Tibbon,Pool)

MIDEAST ISRAEL PALESTINIANS

Israel's Foreign Minister Avigdor lieberman arrives at the weekly cabinet meeting in Jerusalem, Sunday, June 28, 2009. (AP Photo/Gali Tibbon,Pool)

The president of France advised Israel's prime minister to fire Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, two 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 appointment has been ill-received internationally because of his hard-line positions on peace and Israel's Arab population, among other issues.
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.
Lieberman has also harshly criticized the U.S.-led peace talks launched by former President George W. Bush in Annapolis, Maryland in 2007.
French President Nicolas Sarkozy told Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel 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.
French Foreign Ministry spokesman Romain Nadal said he would not comment beyond remarks provided by Sarkozy's office after the meeting with Netanyahu. There was no mention of Lieberman in that briefing.
"If the things attributed to the French president are true, then the interference of the president of a respected democratic country in the affairs of a different democratic country is very serious and intolerable," Lieberman's spokesman Tzahi Moshe said.
Netanyahu "has complete confidence in Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman," his office said after he met with EU ambassadors. "He knows that Foreign Minister Lieberman is fully committed to peace and security and that he is an important member of the elected government."