PARIS (EJP)---Francois Hollande, who won the Socialist party’s primaries on Sunday, will be the party’s candidate in next year’s presidential election in France.
A little known politician outside France, 57-year-old Hollande will have the task to challenge Sarkozy – who has till to declare his candidacy - and extreme-right Marine Le Pen in the presidential poll in May 2011.
Opinion polls suggest he could beat Sarkozy
For the 600,000 French Jews, beside French interior politics, the candidates position towards the Jews and Israel is of utmost importance.
Hollande is generally regarded as pro-Israel
despite the fact that the Socialist Party has been often criticized for its pro-Palestinian positions. Aubry, to the contrary, made several controversial pro-Palestinian statements that were received with concern by the French Jews.
The CRIF, the umbrella representative group of French Jewish organizations, congratulated Hollande for his election and praised his previous commitments towards Judaism and his empathy for Israel.
“We hope that he will express these positions during the election campaign,” Richard Prasquier, president of CRIF, told EJP.
“He knows Israel and is among those in the Socialist Party who has an old sympathy towards Israel,” he added...
The election of Hollande comes as Jews are expressing growing concern about the apparent evolution of President Sarkozy’s position on Israel that reflects a return to France’s “traditional” pro-Arab policy
While several European leaders have rejected Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’s unilateral request to the UN to recognize a Palestinian state, Sarkozy, in his address to the UN General Assembly, advocated to grant the Palestinians an upgraded ‘observer state’ status.
And more recently, he was quoted in the French satirical magazine Le Canard Enchaine as saying that “it is silly to talk about a Jewish state”, in a reference to Israel’s demand that the Palestinians recognize Israel as the Jewish state in any peace agreement. He added, "it would be like saying that this table is Catholic. There are two million Arabs in Israel."
Sarkozy, who has always described himself as a true friend of Israel, was also quoted as calling Mahmoud Abbas “a statesman” while “Netanyahu, on the other hand, never fails to disappoint us.”...