Hollande to Speak at the Knesset, After All
Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein expressed satisfaction at the decision of French President Francoise Hollande to speak before the Knesset next week. There had been some doubt regarding Hollande's willingness to do so, but on Sunday his office said that the speech would take place.
In honor of Hollande's historic address, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu will also speak, as will Edelstein and Opposition head Shelly Yechimovich.
Edelstein had been set to meet with Hollande but several weeks ago said he was canceling the meeting, because Hollande's office had said that the French President would not speak before the Knesset. Hollande, his office said, wanted to speak to a group of students, much like US President Barack H. Obama did on his visit to Israel in March. Although Obama did not speak before the Knesset on his last trip here, he had spoken there on a previous visit.
Speaking Sunday, Edelstein said that “it is a great honor for the Knesset to host the President of France, a state that is one of Israel's best friends. I am happy and proud that President Hollande has decided to honor the Knesset and to speak to the Israeli people from the Knesset podium. I am sure his visit will be important for both our countries.”
Hollande will arrive in Israel on a three day trip next week with a large delegation of French lawmakers and ministers, along with about 50 business officials, and a large contingent of journalists.
The French President's about-face comes a day after reports from negotiations over Iran's nuclear program suggested Iranian negotiators were angered by the French government's perceived support for Israel's position.
French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said that his country was "not satisfied" with the initial draft of a deal with the Islamic Republic, the terms of which Israeli PM Binyamin Netanyahu had already "utterly rejected" in talks with US Secretary of State John Kerry.
Opponents of the draft deal - which Netanyahu mocked as "the deal of the century" for Tehran - say it essentially rolls back the hefty sanctions regime in return for superficial concessions on the part of Iran.