Netanyahu to French Jews after attacks: 'Israel is your home'

JERUSALEM (AFP) - Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told French Jews Saturday, after 17 people were killed there during three days of Islamist attacks, that Israel is their home.

"To all the Jews of France, all the Jews of Europe, I would like to say that Israel is not just the place in whose direction you pray, the state of Israel is your home," he said in a televised statement, referring to the Jewish practice of facing Jerusalem during prayer.

"Unless the world comes to its senses, terror will continue to strike in other places," he added in remarks on his official Twitter account.

Mr Netanyahu will attend a mass national rally in Paris on Sunday to pay tribute to the 17 victims, the Israeli embassy in Paris said Saturday, following initial doubts over security concerns.

He will be accompanied by Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman to “express their support for the French people and its leaders", the embassy said. 

Four of the fatalities were Jews killed in an attack on a kosher supermarket hours before start of the Jewish Sabbath.

Mr Netanyahu named them in a written statement as Yoav Hattab, Philippe Braham, Yohan Cohen and Francois-Michel Saada.

"We express our deep sorrow for our Jewish brothers who were murdered simply because they were Jews," he said.

"(To) our brothers and sisters in the Jewish community of France we share your pain at the awful loss," he added.

Mr Netanyahu also said he had ordered a ministerial committee to convene next week to discuss ways to encourage immigration of French and other European Jews to Israel.

"This week, a special team of ministers will convene to advance steps to increase immigration from France and other countries in Europe that are suffering from terrible anti-Semitism.

"All Jews who want to immigrate to Israel will be welcomed here warmly and with open arms. We will help you in your absorption here in our state that is also your state," he said in the statement.

Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman will represent Israel instead.

Mr Lieberman met Saturday evening with Israeli ministry and security officials to discuss repercussions of the attacks.

"The meeting discussed strengthening ties with the heads of the Jewish community in France and the security of the various institutions of the Jewish community there," ministry spokesman Emmanuel Nahshon said in a statement.