Foreign Minister Yair Lapid has decided to boycott French MP Meir Habib, who is close to Netanyahu and took an active part in his election campaign, and to ban him from entering the Foreign Ministry, Foreign Ministry sources said.
Last week, a delegation of senior members of the “Krif” – the umbrella organization of the Jewish community in France – arrived in Jerusalem. The members of the delegation requested a meeting with Lapid and other officials in the Israeli government. Prior to the arrival of the delegation, a senior Foreign Ministry official spoke with one of the heads of the “creep” and emphasized to him that she had been asked to convey a message from Foreign Minister Lapid.
Foreign Ministry sources said that in the message, Lapid emphasized that he would be happy to meet with the delegation but clarified that French MP Meir Habib, who previously served as vice-president of the Creep, could not be part of it and that if he arrived he would not be allowed to enter the Foreign Ministry. Lapid’s message was the closest thing to declaring Habib, who is also an Israeli citizen, an undesirable personality (persona non grata).
Foreign Ministry sources said that the background to Lapid’s decision was an event that took place a few months ago, after the new government was sworn in. Then, a delegation of French parliamentarians visited Israel and met with the new Prime Minister Naftali Bennett. All the French MPs who attended the meeting asked Bennett questions about Iran, the Palestinians and the Corona crisis, but when it was Habib’s turn to speak, he began talking about domestic politics in Israel.
Sources who attended the meeting told Walla! Habib, who is considered one of the people closest to Likud chairman Benjamin Netanyahu, began attacking Bennett sharply, claiming that he betrayed the promises he made to his constituents.
The prime minister responded with restraint and explained to French MPs what his motives were for joining the government. A source who attended the meeting said that Habib spoke rudely to Bennett and that some of the French MPs who attended the meeting even remarked to him about it after leaving the Prime Minister’s Office.
Foreign Ministry sources stated that beyond the same incident with the prime minister, Habib has been running for many years as an activist in Israeli domestic politics for Benjamin Netanyahu and not as a member of parliament of a foreign country or as a senior figure in the Jewish community in France. Hence, they say, the attitude towards it should be accordingly.
Habib is a French businessman who previously served as vice president of the umbrella organization of the Jewish community in France, the “Creep”, and is currently a member of parliament representing, among other things, the French living in Israel. Habib is also one of the people closest to Netanyahu and his family – both personally and politically. For years he was the husband of Netanyahu and his wife in Paris. When Netanyahu served as chairman of the opposition, Habib even joined official meetings at the Elysee Palace.
During the last election campaign for the French parliament, Netanyahu recorded a video in support of Meir Habib that was distributed on social media to potential voters in the French community in Israel.
In the Bibi-Tours investigation, journalist Raviv Drucker revealed that in 2000 and 2001 Habib financed at least one trip abroad for Benjamin and Sarah Netanyahu, as well as for their children Yair and Avner.
In 2018, Netanyahu acted on behalf of Habib in front of French President Emanuel Macron and asked him to restore the security of the French police that Habib had won but was removed. Macron was surprised by the request but a month later they were returned to the security guards’ favorite.
Meir Habib responded that he has not been in an official position in the “creep” for eight years and does not participate in the organization’s delegations. He said he had not visited Israel for several months because he was busy with the parliamentary inquiry committee he heads on the issue of the murder of Sarah Halimi. Habib noted that he contacted the CEO of the “creep” who told him that he had never received such a request in his case.
“I am a member of a French parliament that represents, among other things, 180,000 French people living in Israel,” Habib said. “As a political man, my ideological views and political battles are known to everyone. As part of my job, I am in contact with Israeli government ministries, the embassy and consulate and always try my best to help relations between the countries – without political distinction. I have known Yair Lapid for many years. In a correct relationship. “
The Lapid bureau refused to comment.
Source: Maariv.co.il – פוליטי – מדיני by www.maariv.co.il.
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