Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu urges Jews to move to Israel after Copenhagen attacks

Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu arrives to the weekly cabinet meeting at his office in Jerusalem on Sunday. --PHOTO: REUTERS
Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu arrives to the weekly cabinet meeting at his office in Jerusalem on Sunday. --PHOTO: REUTERS

JERUSALEM (AFP) - Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday urged European Jews to move to Israel after a Jewish man was killed in an attack outside Copenhagen's main synagogue.

"Israel is your home. We are preparing and calling for the absorption of mass immigration from Europe," Netanyahu said in a statement, repeating a similar call after attacks by extremists in Paris last month when four Jews were among the dead.

Two police officers were also wounded in Sunday's attack in Copenhagen, one of two fatal shootings in the normally peaceful Danish capital on the weekend.

In the first attack on Saturday, a 55-year-old man was killed at a panel discussion about Islam and free speech attended by a Swedish cartoonist behind controversial caricatures of the Prophet Mohammed.

"Extremist Islamic terrorism has struck Europe again... Jews have been murdered again on European soil only because they were Jews," Netanyahu said in the statement.

The Israeli prime minister said his government was to adopt a $45 million (S$61 million) plan "to encourage the absorption of immigrants from France, Belgium and Ukraine".

"To the Jews of Europe and to the Jews of the world I say that Israel is waiting for you with open arms," Netanyahu said.

He had made a similar call after three days of bloodshed in Paris that started with the Jan 7 attack on satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo where 12 people were gunned down, followed the next day by the shooting death of a policewoman just outside the city.

On Jan 9, the gunman who killed the policewoman took hostages at a kosher supermarket in Paris. He killed four Jewish hostages before police shot him dead when they raided the store.

The bodies of the four were later flown to Israel where they were buried.

Officials in Copenhagen described the weekend attacks as an act of terror and said the man believed to be behind the shootings was shot dead after opening fire on police at a rail station.

Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman sent condolences to Danish counterpart Martin Lidegaard over the attacks, telling him Israel "appreciates Denmark's cooperation in maintaining the security of Israelis and Jews in Denmark." The foreign ministry quoted Lieberman as telling Lidegaard that Israel was "ready for any cooperation required on this issue".

The Palestinians also condemned the attack "in the strongest terms," with PLO official Saeb Erakat calling the Copenhagen attacks "absolutely unjustifiable." "Terrorism knows no religion or nationality, and our opposition to such violence must be firmly united. We stand in solidarity with the Danish people," Erakat said in a statement.