Daily Israel Report

FM to France: Send the Foreign Legion to Gaza

Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman chided French criticism of Israel's Gaza blockade - saying France needs to pull its weight.
By Gabe Kahn.
First Publish: 11/14/2011, 6:59 PM

Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman
Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman
Flash 90

Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman said Monday that Israel would be happy to lift its blockade on Hamas-run Gaza if France would pull its weight - by sending in the Foreign Legion to keep order.

Lieberman, known for his candid and colorful mode of expression, was responding to recent criticism from the government of French President Nicolas Sarkozy.

The Foreign Minister said he had raised the idea during talks with his French counterpart Alain Juppe in June.

"I have no problem in lifting the blockade tomorrow as long as there is a force to inspect everything coming into the Gaza Strip and (prevent) terrorist activity," Lieberman told MPs on Monday.

"Instead of us doing it ourselves, you (can) send the French Foreign Legion!"

A French foreign ministry official confirmed Lieberman's previous remarks to Alain Juppe to AFP.

"Don't send girls with olive branches," Lieberman added Monday, referencing a boatload of French activists who tried to breach Israel's blockade on Gaza.

The United Nations Palmer Report on the 2010 Mavi Marmara incident concluded Israel's blockade of Gaza was both "legal and appropriate" as a means of curtailing arms to the Hamas terror organization.

Israeli officials note that the Kerem Shalom crossing to Gaza is never at full capacity despite all requests for aid to Gaza being met.

French and Western criticism of Israel's arms embargo - predicated on the claim there is a 'humanitarian crisis' in Gaza - is unfounded, the officials say.  Bustling Gazan malls and thriving hotels bear this out. The humanitarian problem in Gaza is the wide gap between rich and poor, with the former ignoring the latter.