JTA — Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu endorsed the campaign of Jewish businessman Meyer Habib for a seat in the French parliament.
Habib is hoping to enter France’s National Assembly as the representative of French citizens living in Israel, Turkey, Greece, Italy, Malta, Cyprus, the Vatican and San Marino.
“I have known Meyer Habib for many years and he is a good friend to me and to Israel,” Netanyahu said in French in a video posted on YouTube on May 20.
Standing next to Habib, Netanyahu continued in Hebrew: “He fights a lot for Israel, for public opinion and cares intensely about the Land of Israel and Jerusalem and he has helped me over the years deepen Israeli-French relations … We need to let him represent this bond in the best possible way. Go vote!”
The election — in which Israelis and Jews are considered favorites thanks to some 65,000 Frenchmen living in Israel, more than anywhere else in the constituency -– is scheduled to take place Sunday.
Habib is running against several candidates, including Istanbul resident Marie-Rose Koro, a Socialist. Jewish candidates include Valerie Hoffenberg, of former French president Nicolas Sarkozy’s UMP party, and Jonathan-Simon Sellem, a journalist living in Israel.
The vote was announced in February after the June 2012 election of Daphna Poznanski-Benhamou — another French Israeli — was disqualified due to campaign funding irregularities.
To run for parliament, Habib gave up his bid to become president of the CRIF umbrella group of the French Jewish community, where he currently serves as vice president. More than 170 CRIF delegates will elect a president on Sunday, the same day as the parliamentary election.
In the running for CRIF president are three prominent French Jews: Past CRIF president Roger Cukierman; one of CRIF’s regional delegates, François Guggenheim; and Arié Bensemhoun, president of the Jewish community of Toulouse.