Knesset speaker says ‘non’ to French president
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Knesset speaker says ‘non’ to French president

MK Edelstein irked by Francois Hollande’s cancellation of a speech in Israeli parliament in favor of a university venue

Stuart Winer is a breaking news editor at The Times of Israel.

Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein (photo credit: Miriam Alster/Flash90)
Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein (photo credit: Miriam Alster/Flash90)

Knesset speaker Yuli Edelstein has told the French president that he is no longer welcome in the Knesset after Francois Hollande canceled an upcoming speech in the Israeli parliament.

Edelstein told French authorities that he would not meet with Francois Hollande in the Knesset, as planned, and that in the future visiting French ministers would not be invited to official Knesset events or meetings with MKs, the Yedioth Ahronoth newspaper reported Wednesday.

Hollande, who is due to visit Israel in three weeks, was scheduled to address the Knesset plenum, an honor that is not part of the usual protocol for visiting leaders of foreign nations, and meet with Edelstein at the Knesset in Jerusalem.

However, French authorities notified Edelstein that Hollande had decided to forgo the Knesset speech in favor of a public address to be made at a university, either in Tel Aviv or Jerusalem.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu meets with French President Francois Hollande in Paris, October 31, 2012 (photo credit: Avi Ohayon/Flash 90)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu meets with French President Francois Hollande in Paris, October 31, 2012 (photo credit: Avi Ohayon/Flash 90)

Edelstein said Wednesday that it was the French who had initially requested the opportunity to address the Knesset in the first place, a fact that made their about-face more egregious.

“The Israeli MKs deserve to hear what the French president has to say,” Edelstein told Army Radio.

He clarified in the Army Radio interview that individual MKs and lobbies could always invite French officials of their own accord. The leader of a foreign nation of the caliber of France, making an official visit to the Knesset, is usually given the red carpet treatment.

Hollande would not be the first leader to choose a venue other than the Knesset to address the Israeli people. When US President Barack Obama visited Israel in March he did not address the parliament, instead preferring to deliver a speech to a largely student-aged audience at the International Convention Center in Jerusalem.

Other prominent world leaders have given speeches to the Knesset over the years, including, recently, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Hollande’s predecessor Nicolas Sarkozy.

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