Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s close friend Meyer Habib could lose his seat in the French National Assembly if too few Israelis come out to vote next Sunday, when a runoff race will take place.
Habib, a dual French-Israeli citizen, was elected to the assembly in 2013, representing French citizens in Israel, Greece, Italy and other Mediterranean countries. Israel has nearly 80,000 registered French voters, more than all the other seven countries in Habib’s constituency combined, though more than 200,000 French citizens live in Israel.
In the first round of voting, Habib finished second among 17 candidates, winning 35.1% of the vote, just behind the 36.73% of Florence Pavaux-Drory, a former aide to former French president François Mitterrand, who is married to former Israeli diplomat Mordechai Drory.
Among Israelis, Habib won 74% of the vote, but only 7% of eligible voters cast ballots.
He would need a much larger turnout to win, especially considering that Pavaux-Drory has the support of popular new French president Emmanuel Macron.
“It will be OK with God’s help, but it is important that everyone wakes up,” Habib told The Jerusalem Post Monday.
Netanyahu has praised Habib for defending Israel in the assembly, stopping anti-Israel resolutions and bringing key French dignitaries to Israel.
Pavaux-Drory, who also campaigned in Israel, has said that Habib has not done enough to serve his constituents outside the Jewish state.
Habib has denied that charge.
Last month, Habib posted a video on his Facebook wall, in which Netanyahu praised him in French and Hebrew. The prime minister also said Habib was responsible for French-Israeli cooperation in fighting terrorism.
“He loves France and is loyal to France, but he loves French-Israeli relations very, very much,” Netanyahu said.
“He constantly speaks to me about it, how to strengthen the connection that is so important, not just to Israel, but also for France.”
Habib has said that Pavaux-Drory is too pro-Palestinian and anti-religious, charges she denies.
In another race of interest to the French Jewish community, former prime minister Manuel Valls will face off Sunday in a run-off for his seat in the assembly against comedian Dieudonné M’bala M’bala, who has 10 convictions for inciting racial hatred against Jews.