Avigdor Lieberman
Israeli Minister of Foreign Affairs, Avigdor Lieberman, pictured in October 2011. Israel would happily lift its blockade on the Hamas-run Gaza Strip if France would play its part... by sending in the legendary Foreign Legion to keep order, Lieberman said on Monday. © Elvis Barukcic - AFP/File
Avigdor Lieberman
AFP
Last updated: November 15, 2011

Send Legion to Gaza, Israeli minister tells France

Israel would happily lift its blockade on the Hamas-run Gaza Strip if France would play its part... by sending in the legendary Foreign Legion to keep order, an Israeli minister said on Monday.

Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, who has often made headlines with his candid remarks and sometimes outlandish behaviour -- he once gave a live radio interview from the loo -- 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!"

The remarks were confirmed to AFP by an Israeli official present at the meeting in parliament.

"Don't send girls with olive branches," Lieberman added, in an apparent reference to a boatload of French peace activists who tried to reach Gaza in defiance of Israel's blockade on the territory.

Romanticised in fiction, the Legion has a 180-year history of sorting out troubles in foreign lands, originally in France's colonial empire.

Israel says its blockade is necessary to prevent weapons from entering the coastal territory, which is run by the Islamist Hamas movement, but activists criticise it as collective punishment of the territory's 1.5 million residents.

blog comments powered by Disqus
Stay Connected
twitter icon Twitter 13,558 linkedin icon LinkedIn 463
facebook icon Facebook 87,173 google+ icon Google+ 272