PARIS (EJP) ---French President Francois Hollande will visit on Thursday with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu the school in Toulouse, southeastern France, where a teacher and three Jewish children were killed in March by Mohamed Merah.
The president will travel to Toulouse the day after he will receive Netanyahu at the Elysee Palace.
The Israeli Prime Minister, who will be on a two-day visit to France, will participate in a memorial ceremony at the Jewish Ozar Hatorah school (renamed Ohr Hatorah) where the killing took place and then talk with representatives of the local Jewish community.
The school was the scene of the worst attack on the French Jewish community in decades when Merah opened fire on children arriving for class.
Rabbi Jonathan Sandler, his two sons - Aryeh, 6, and Gavriel, 3 - and eight-year-old Myriam Monsonego were killed in the attack.
On March 19, a few hours after the tragedy, Francois Hollande, then presidential candidate, traveled to Toulouse to mark its "solidarity with the families and the Jewish community in France."
Merah, a 23-year-old French-
Algerian Islamist terrorist who was previously a petty criminal, was shot and killed by police in a standoff after his killing spree, which also included the shooting deaths of three French paratroopers.
He then called to "do everything to fight anti-Semitism and racism and bring a common and firm response from the Republic."
Netanyahu, who will arrive in Paris on Wednesday, will meet the French president for the first time since his election in May. A working lunch followed by a joint press conference are on the agenda.
Talks will be dominated by the nuclear Iran issue, the situation of French Jewish community, which has been hit by a recent increase in anti-Semitic incidents, and the fight against terrorism.
In the afternoon, the Israeli Prime Minister will his French counterpart Jean-Marc Ayrault and Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius.
|The last time Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu visited Paris was in May 2011 when he sought to drum up French support to head off a Palestinian initiative to seek full state membership at the United Nations.
he two-day trip is important because it will be Netanyahu's "first opportunity to talk with President Hollande, and he hopes to build a good working relationship with the French leader," a source close to the Israeli leader told Agence France Presse.
Since taking office five months ago, Hollande has only spoken to Netanyahu by phone, whereas he has already twice met Palestinian Authority chief Mahmud Abbas in Paris. He has also met Israeli Labor party leader Shelly Yachimovich.
"It's no secret that the Jews of France are experiencing a difficult period since the Toulouse incident," one source said.
"French society and government are aware of the increase in anti-Semitism in their country and are working determinedly to stem the phenomenon,"the source said.
Nicole Yardeni, director of CRIF, the representative body of French Jewish organisations, said Netanyahu’s visit in Toulouse "is of great importance" as "it shows the residents that the people of Israel and the Jewish people in general are expressing their solidarity with the residents after the horrific attack there." "I wouldn't say that after the incident the Jews are living in greater fear, because they seem to be carrying on with their lives. But they are certainly shocked by the level the hatred against them has reached."
"There is a renewal of incidents based on anti-Semitism here, and when a grenade was thrown at a kosher shop in Sarcelles, near Paris, it proved that the aim was the disruption of routine Jewish life," said a member of the French parliament.
"But Israel should know that Interior Minister Manuel Valls has set his sights on fighting anti-Semitism."
"Netanyahu wants to send a message of solidarity with victims of terrorism -- both Jewish and non-Jewish," said an Israel source close to the visit.
"He wants to emphasize the importance of unified international action against terrorism."