Israel slams Belarus leader for anti-Semitism

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JERUSALEM, Oct 19 (Reuters) Israel slammed Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko for anti-Semitism after he said Jews ''don't care'' for the places they live in, but said today it did not plan to recall its ambassador to the country.

Lukashenko told a news conference last week that Jews allowed cities to fall into neglect. ''This was founded as a Jewish city and you know how Jews treat the place they live in,'' Lukashenko said, referring to the Belarussian city of Bobruisk.

''Look at Israel, I have been there. I in no way want to offend them, but they don't take much care of it,'' he said.

Israel said it would reprimand the Belarus ambassador to the Jewish state but stopped short of recalling its own representative in the former Soviet country -- a step Israeli newspapers said it had considered.

''The role of leadership is to fight anti-Semitism wherever it raises its ugly head, all over the world, not to encourage it,'' Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni said in a statement.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Mark Regev said Israel would not recall its ambassador to Belarus because of the remarks.

Seeking refuge from a long history of anti-Semitism, some one million immigrants from the former Soviet Union have moved to Israel since the fall of Communism in 1990.

Lukashenko, barred from entering the United States and the European Union, is accused of hounding opponents, stifling media and rigging elections, including his own re-election last year to a third term.

REUTERS ARB PM1555

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