Paris, June 24, 2009
The President of the Republic had an in-depth discussion on the Middle East with the Prime Minister of the State of Israel, Mr. Benjamin Netanyahu, on the occasion of his first official visit to France since the Israeli legislative elections in February.
The President of the Republic reiterated with the same forcefulness as during his speech to the Knesset on June 23, 2008, that France will never compromise on Israel’s security. This commitment lies at the heart of the relations of friendship and trust that unite our two countries. In this regard, the President of the Republic once again clearly signaled that the prospect of a nuclear Iran is unacceptable.
The President of the Republic also reaffirmed that the creation of an independent, democratic, modern, viable, peaceable and peaceful Palestinian State existing in peace and security alongside Israel is one of the best guarantees of Israel’s long-term security.
The Head of State welcomed the prospect of a Palestinian State outlined by Mr. Netanyahu during his speech on June 14 at Tel Aviv’s Bar Ilan University. That speech marked an important step forward toward the only possible solution, that of two States for two peoples. President Sarkozy specified that the future Palestinian State could in no way constitute a threat to Israel’s security.
France is willing to contribute to an international force, notably with the United States and its European Union partners. It is also willing to offer substantial security guarantees, which Mr. Netanyahu called for in his speech, in order to achieve and then implement a peace agreement. France is also willing to promote a resumption of negotiations, without deadlines and without preconditions, in order to reach an agreement on all final-status parameters. France is calling for the international community to commit itself swiftly to sponsoring such negotiations, and for the implementation of a regional peace framework.
Within this context, the President of the Republic called on Israel to take all possible trust-building measures without delay, beginning with a total freeze on settlement activities, as well as a decisive improvement in access and movement for Palestinian civilians.
The Head of State mentioned the situation of our compatriot, Gilad Shalit, who has been held hostage in Gaza for three years now, and whose release represents a priority for France. He expressed France’s total willingness to once again take any new initiative that could help with this release.
The President welcomed Egyptian efforts to bolster the cease-fire in Gaza and to permit the opening and rebuilding of that territory.
He repeated his conviction that Syria and Lebanon can play a decisive, positive role that contributes to peace in the region, and encouraged a resumption of the peace process on these two tracks.