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European Jews Sign Petition Critical Of Israel

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PARIS — More than 3,000 European Jews, including prominent intellectuals, have signed a petition speaking out against Israeli settlement policies and warning that systematic support for the Israeli government is dangerous.

The petition's signatories include French philosophers Bernard-Henri Levy and Alain Finkielkraut as well as Daniel Cohn-Bendit, a Greens leader in the European Parliament.

Backers – who compare their goals to those of J Street, a liberal pro-Israel Jewish lobbying group in the U.S. – plan to present their position at a news conference at the European Parliament in Brussels on Monday.

Supporters hope to build a European movement that is both "committed to the state of Israel and critical of the current choices of its government."

Israeli columnist Yossi Sarid, a former Cabinet minister identified with Israel's dovish peace movement, praised the initiative in an op-ed published in the Haaretz daily Sunday.

"These are people who seize every opportunity to defend Israel publicly and remain faithful to it," he wrote. "But even their patience is running out and their hearts are filled with sincere concern."

Israel's Foreign Ministry declined to comment because the initiative is not government-sponsored.

Many signatories are from France, where the petition has received much press coverage. France's Jewish community has hotly debated the petition, entitled "Call for Reason." The president of France's leading Jewish association, CRIF, declined to sign, saying he objected to some of its language and its tone.

"Do Israelis need the Jewish Diaspora to know what is 'the right' decision, what should be the borders of a country that their sons and daughters are protecting?" Richard Prasquier wrote in Le Figaro newspaper.

The petition, online at , says Israel faces a threat in the "occupation and the continuing pursuit of settlements in the West Bank and in the Arab districts of East Jerusalem. http://www.jcall.eu

"These policies are morally and politically wrong and feed the unacceptable delegitimization process that Israel currently faces abroad," it says.

It adds that "systematic support of Israeli government policy is dangerous and does not serve the true interests of the state of Israel."