Bibi blunder: How a war mongering divisive leader came to speak at France's rally for peace
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu makes a speech at the Grand Synagogue in Paris, January 11, 2015. (AFP/File)
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The French government was opposed to the idea of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu attending Sunday’s historic march in Paris, believing the Israeli leader’s presence at the rally would be “divisive,” Israeli media reported Sunday.
Netanyahu did not initially plan to attend the event, which was organized in a show of solidarity and defiance after terrorist attacks in the French capital, which claimed 17 lives. However, the Prime Minister changed his mind after Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman and Economy Minister Naftali Bennett announced they would join the march, Israel’s Channel 2 news reported.
In retaliation to Netanyahu’s sudden change of heart, which came in spite of the French government’s position, the Elysee Palace extended an invitation to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, according to the report.
The French government reportedly further chose to highlight their invite to Abbas rather than Netanyahu’s announcement regarding the event, announcing a planned meeting between French President Francois Hollande and Abbas Saturday night.
The Israeli Prime Minister’s Office did not respond to a request to respond to the reports.
On Sunday, Hollande and world leaders, including Netanyahu and Abbas, marched in the mammoth procession, which began near where gunmen killed 12 people at satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo last week.
Netanyahu was initially situated in a second row of leaders, but shimmied his way into the front row, alongside Malian President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita, Hollande, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, EU Council President Donald Tusk and Abbas.
Some 1.5 million people marched in the massive rally, the largest of a series of demonstrations around France that brought some 3.7 million people out into the streets, according to figures cited by AFP.
The leaders observed a minute’s silence as the march got underway.
A sea of humanity flowed through Paris’s iconic streets, breaking into applause and spontaneous renditions of the national anthem, as a shell-shocked France mourned the victims of three days of bloody violence.
Organizers put the crowd at the historic march at between 1.3 and 1.5 million.
Emotions ran high in the grieving City of Light, with many of those marching bursting into tears as they came together under the banner of freedom of speech and liberty after France’s worst terrorist bloodbath in more than half a century.
Among the victims were four Jews at a kosher supermarket and a Muslim police officer.
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