Meyer Habib, a representative in the French National Assembly, telephoned French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius and warned him that Israel would attack Iran if Fabius did not scuttle the proposed nuclear deal between Iran and the P5 + 1 nations. The Times of Israel, quoting Israeli Channel 2 News, reported the following statement from the French Member of Parliament:
‘I know [Netanyahu],’ the French MP, Meyer Habib, reportedly told Fabius, and predicted that the Israeli prime minister would resort to the use of force if the deal was approved in its form at the time. ‘If you don’t toughen your positions, Netanyahu will attack Iran,’ the report quoted Habib as saying. ‘I know this. I know him. You have to toughen your positions in order to prevent war.’
The French Foreign Minister subsequently blocked the proposed temporary agreement this past weekend, citing Israeli security concerns.
Habib, who before joining the French Parliament was a high official at the Representative Council of Jewish Institutions in France (CRIF), the Jewish organization with the most political power in France. It holds an annual gala similar to AIPAC’s, that features an array of influential elected public officials.
As reported here yesterday, Habib helped Fabius arrange a meeting with Netanyahu after the French Foreign Minister was repeatedly snubbed by the Israeli leader. Habib is considered Netanyahu’s man in Paris.
Netanyahu recorded a campaign video endorsing Habib, although it is most unusual and considered inappropriate for a high government official to actively support a foreign political candidate. French politicians cried foul and the Israeli press was highly critical. However, Habib was unapologetic, declaring in heavily French-accented Hebrew, that he never financed any of Netanyahu’s political campaigns and was honored to have Netanyahu’s support.
Habib represents French citizens living in Israel, Turkey, Greece, Italy, Malta, Cyprus, the Vatican and San Marino. However, a vast majority of his constituents live in Israel. In the election video, the Israeli PM, who initially spoke French, called Habib a good friend of his and of Israel. Continuing in Hebrew, Netanyahu said that the candidate will fight for Israel in all forums and that his friend has helped him improve ties between Israel and France. He said that Habib always thinks about how to support both Israel and the Jewish people,and that now is the time to support Habib. The Israeli PM concluded with the request, “Go vote.”
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry declared that the French proposal was accepted unanimously by the six powers at the talks, but rejected by Iran. This may indicate that the negotiations may be in greater danger of collapsing than many officials have publicly suggested.
Addressing a report that French reservations had delayed a deal at the talks in Geneva, Mr. Kerry said that the major powers were united but the Iranian delegation had not been able to accept it.
‘The French signed off on it, we signed off on it,’ Mr. Kerry said. ‘There was unity but Iran couldn’t take it,’ he said.
H/T to commenters Dickerson and Doppler.
Update: Ma’ariv reported that Netanyahu was the source of the message from Habib to Fabius. Here is a translation from the website: “NRG Ma’avriv has learned that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu sent the message to the French Foreign Minister Fabius via French Member of Parliament, Meyer Habib….”