Nicolas Sarkozy sends letter of condolence to Netanyahu after calling him a liar
NICHOLAS Sarkozy sent a letter of condolence to Benjamin Netanyahu, the Israeli premier, after having reportedly called him a "liar", according to a senior Israeli official.
Mr Sarkozy, the French president, suffered embarrassment last week when he reportedly made the remarks to US President Barack Obama during the G20 summit in Cannes.
The conversation was overheard by a number of journalists after it was inadvertently transmitted over a system used for translation, media website Arret Sur Images reported.
"I can't stand him anymore, he's a liar," Mr Sarkozy was heard to say in French.
The Israeli official said: "President (Nicolas) Sarkozy sent a personal letter in his and his wife Carla's name in which he expresses his condolences to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his spouse Sarah after the death of the latter's father.
"In the letter, Mr Sarkozy reminds the prime minister of his friendship and underlines that their differences over the problems of the Middle East, which the press echoed recently, do not have an impact on this friendship," said the official.
The Israeli government declined to comment.
In Paris, the Elysee confirmed that a "private" letter had been sent, but refused to disclose its contents.
Meanwhile Israeli Cabinet ministers decided on Monday to hold on to some $100m in taxes owed to the Palestinians, despite warnings from the defence ministry that the measure could threaten the stability of the Palestinian government in the West Bank.
Israel stopped transfer of tax funds as punishment for the Palestinian's successful bid for admission to the United Nations' cultural agency UNESCO, which was part of a larger effort to gain admission as a state in the world body.
Israel believes creation of a Palestinian state must be achieved through negotiations and charges that the UN bid is one of a series of steps to bring unwarranted pressure on the Jewish state.
Israeli defence officials have said funding cutoffs threaten Abbas' moderate Palestinian Authority, which employs tens of thousands of people, including security forces whose work at preventing attacks on Israelis has won praise from Israel and the United States in the past.
In accordance with interim peace deals, Israel collects customs, border and some income taxes on behalf of the Palestinians and relays them monthly to their West Bank government. The transfers were suspended on Nov. 3 in reaction to the UNESCO admission.
The statehood bid has stalled, as the Palestinians have been unable to muster the required support of nine of the Security Council's 15 members. That leaves the Palestinians with an option of seeking a lesser upgrade to non-member observer state.
Israel, backed by the US, opposed the statehood bid and suspended funding for UNESCO after it admitted the Palestinians.