French President Francois Hollande requested that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu not attend the memorial march against terror in Paris at the weekend, it has emerged.
An Israeli source involved in correspondence between the offices of Netanyahu and Hollande told Israeli daily Haaretz that the French leader's national security adviser, Jacques Audibert, relayed this message to Yossi Cohen, Netanyahu's national security adviser.
The reason for Hollande's request is that he believed Netanyahu's attendance at the march could be "divisive", according to Israel's Channel 2.
Hollande reportedly wanted the march to solely focus on French solidarity and not the Israeli-Palestinian conflict or Jewish-Muslim relations. The same message was given to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.
The Israeli source revealed that a French concern was that Netanyahu would seek to capitalise on the situation for his own political gain with the Israeli snap election just two months away.
Netanyahu initially agreed to the request and announced that he would not be attending the march due to security concerns and would fly later for a visit to the Jewish community.
Yet, Netanyahu changed his mind when he discovered that his Economy Minister, Naftali Bennett, and Foreign Minister, Avigdor Lieberman, were planning to attend the march and meet with the Jewish community.
Audibert reported told Cohen that Netanyahu's refusal to accept Hollande's request would have a negative impact on relations between the two countries.
Hollande's adviser also said that the invitation would then be extended to Abbas so as not to be seen favouring one party in the conflict.
Approximately 1.5 million people, including 40 world leaders, marched in the streets of Paris following attacks on the offices of satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo and a Kosher grocery, killing 17 people.