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Chirac says sharon not welcome in france { July 19 2004 }

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Chirac Says Sharon Not Welcome in France Until He Explains Remarks Telling Jews to Leave France

The Associated Press

PARIS July 19, 2004 President Jacques Chirac said Monday that the Israeli leader would not be welcome here until he gave a satisfactory explanation for saying Jews should go to Israel to escape anti-Semitism in France.

Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's remarks Sunday produced a storm of rebuke after he said French Jews were under threat by the nation's much larger Muslim community and should leave.

Sharon was considering a trip to Paris, but no date had been set.

"A visit by the Israeli prime minister to Paris ... won't be looked at closely until the requested explanation is provided," a presidential source said on condition of anonymity.

The sharp response by Chirac, the head of the French National Assembly and others caused Sharon to step back, with Israeli officials claiming the remarks were taken out of context. The Israeli officials also praised steps France has taken to stop a surge in violence against Jews.

Sharon's remarks in which he said France was host to "the wildest anti-Semitism" were misunderstood, said Jacques Revah, the charge d'affaires of the Israeli Embassy in Paris.

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