June 23, 2008
Sarkozy salutes Israel at Knesset
JERUSALEM [JTA]—France is ready to help Israel achieve peace but wants concessions toward the Palestinians, Nicolas Sarkozy told the Knesset.
Sarkozy, on his first visit to Israel as French president, gave an impassioned speech in parliament Monday emphasizing the depth of his government’s—and his own—affinity for the Jewish state.
“Jews the world over feel a powerful bond to their homeland. The fate of every Jew is tied up to the fate of all other Jews. The fact that the world has such a prospering Jewish state is a source of pride and honor to every one of them,” said Sarkozy, who had a Jewish grandfather and has tried to crack down on a recent surge of anti-Semitism in France.
Alluding to Iran and its allies like Hamas and Hezbollah, Sarkozy said there should be no tolerance for those who seek Israel’s destruction.
A nuclear-armed Iran, he added, “is totally unacceptable” and should be prevented through the combined might of the international community.
Sarkozy also spoke out in favor of speedily setting up a peaceful Palestinian state which, he said, cannot be established unless Israel makes way in the West Bank.
“There can be no peace without a halt to settlement activity,” he said, adding that Jerusalem should be a shared Israeli-Palestinian capital. The remarks received a mostly warm reception, though Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, in a welcoming address, suggested that some diplomatic disputes with Paris will remain unresolved.
“I will not try, here, to obfuscate the disagreements between us,” Olmert said. “We do not always see eye to eye on every detail.”
But he added that “on the fundamental, significant, important and crucial issues which decree the fate of the State of Israel, you stand strongly by us,” he said, adding a hearty “Bravo!”