France nixes election of Jewish MP as Netanyahu said to consider him for ambassador
Constitutional Council boots Meyer Habib for ballot ‘irregularities’ on same day he meets with ally Netanyahu in Paris
France’s Constitutional Council on Friday announced the invalidation of firebrand Jewish lawmaker Meyer Habib’s election, citing ballot “irregularities” and violations of electoral conduct.
The decision was handed down while Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was in Paris for a diplomatic visit, during which he also met with the French lawmaker.
Habib is a longtime supporter and ally of Netanyahu and reportedly bankrolled several of the Likud leader’s vacations in the early 2000s.
The Kan public broadcaster reported Friday that the premier was considering appointing Habib to become Israel’s next ambassador to France. The Prime Minister’s Office responded to the report, telling Kan that Netanyahu is not currently focused on filling the role, which was vacated on the day his government was sworn in on December 29 by Yael German.
German is a former Yesh Atid MK appointed to the ambassador position by the party’s leader and then-prime minister Yair Lapid. In her letter of resignation, she said she could not in good faith represent the new hardline government led by a premier under indictment for corruption.
Habib was seen alongside Netanyahu during several of the prime minister’s meetings in Paris on Friday, and is seated at his side in the video below.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met today in Paris with French Jewish community leaders.
The Prime Minister updated them on his excellent meeting last night with French President Emmanuel Macron and said that it was their best meeting ever. pic.twitter.com/t4GTAhzp5Y
— Prime Minister of Israel (@IsraeliPM) February 3, 2023
In 2017, Netanyahu posted a video offering his endorsement of Habib ahead of that year’s parliamentary election in France.
Habib won the June 2022 election to represent the Eighth Constituency of French citizens living abroad in countries including Israel, Italy, Greece and Turkey and did so by just 193 votes, garnering 50.58% of the vote to Deborah Abisror de-Lieme’s 49.92%.
Habib is a member of the conservative Les Républicains party while de-Lieme is part of French President Emmanuel Macron’s centrist Renaissance party.
De-Lieme hailed Friday’s decision, saying the Constitutional Council “put an end to years of illicit maneuvers employed by Meyer Habib.”
Habib, a 61-year-old dual French-Israeli citizen, did not immediately issue a response to the ruling.
The Constitutional Council said in its ruling that Habib had violated the electoral code of conduct by broadcasting a campaign message on social media on the day of the election, which is not allowed. The panel also said the former jeweler and businessman illicitly financed the transportation of his supporters to polling stations.
Since November 2021, Habib has also been under a French police investigation for embezzlement of public funds.
Habib’s election was the seventh invalidated by the Constitutional Council from the June 2022 parliamentary elections.