French President Nicolas Sarkozy told French Jews this week that his country “is at the forefront of the struggle against the Iranian nuclear weapon” and reiterated his “commitment and his friendship” towards Israel, the European Jewish Press is reporting.
Sarkozy reportedly made the remarks during a lunch at the Elysee Palace on Wednesday with a delegation of CRIF, the umbrella representative group of French Jewish organizations.
CRIF President Richard Prasquier told EJP that the discussion, which was also attended by French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe, was “very friendly and very open.”
Prasquier noted that Sarkozy addressed the Iraninan issue, and said that France will always stand with Israel if its security is threatened, but voiced his opposition to a military operation “whose consequences would be harmful.”
Sarkozy made similar remarks a few weeks ago, saying that “if Israel’s existence will be threatened, France will not stand by and ignore it.”
The French President added that he sent a letter to leaders of several countries in which he stressed the need to implement tougher sanctions against Iran, especially targeting Iran’s central bank financial flows and calling for an embargo on Iranian oil products.
Sarkozy also addressed the recent embarrassing incident in which he was caught calling Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu a ‘liar’ in a conversation with President Barack Obama.
According to Prasquier, the President said that his very old friendship for Israel “cannot be questioned,” stressing that “no French president has had such sympathy for Israel.” Sarkozy also spoke of “his relation of friendship and respect” with Netanyahu, even if there are “significant differences” between them.
“He considers that Netanyahu had not taken enough initiatives,” Prasquier told EJP.
He noted that the French leader also recalled his recent address to the UN General Assembly, in which he said he favors granting the Palestinian Authority a UN “non member” status but “not under any conditions.”
According to Sarkozy, the PA should recognize that Israel is the state of the Jewish people, start bilateral negotiations, accept the security constraints of Israel and formally commit to not take legal action against it.