Netanyahu, Hollande Make Landmark Speeches in Knesset
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu on Monday invited Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas to address the Knesset and publicly recognize Jewish history and heritage in the Land of Israel, AFP reports. "I call on him from here today: let's break the deadlock," Netanyahu said in a special address to the Knesset, in honor of French President Francois Hollande's visit.
"Come to the Israeli Knesset and I'll come to Ramallah," Netanyahu said, referring to Abbas's Palestinian Authority headquarters. "Get up on this platform and recognize the historical truth: the Jews have a nearly 4,000-year-old link to the land of Israel. The Jews are a people with a right to self-determination," he said.
"In real peace, all Palestinian claims regarding the State of Israel will end, including national claims on its territory and sovereignty," he concluded.
Hollande also spoke to the Knesset Monday, giving words of support to French Jews - but also maintaining a more open relationship with the Palestinian Authority. "France's position is known: a negotiated settlement, with the State of Israel and (the State) of Palestine both having Jerusalem as capital, coexisting in peace and security," he said.
The declarations follow Hollande's meetings with Abbas earlier Monday, where he slammed Israel's building in Judea and Samaria - but he also said he expected the Palestinian Authority to make "efforts" regarding peace. “It is clear that this will require efforts from the Palestinians as a number of Israeli settlements will remain," a member of Hollande's entourage said to AFP.
Hollande's visit is of fundamental importance to Jerusalem, which sees France as a crucial ally in preventing a diplomatic deal with a nuclear Iran. France's involvements in the peace process also follow a disastrous visit with US Secretary of State John Kerry, who made a number of inflammatory remarks against Israel, including threatening a third intifada.
Regarding Iran, Hollande emphasized that he agrees with Israel in wanting to prevent a deal, as long as France is not convinced that Tehran has "definitively renounced" its nuclear weapons program.
"I confirm here that we will maintain the sanctions as long as we are not certain that Iran has definitively renounced its military (nuclear) program," he declared. "France will not let Iran arm itself with nuclear weapons."
Both the peace talks and the Iran deal have led to a very public falling out between the US and Israel, with some believing that France may be a suitable replacement in the case that the traditional alliance between the two countries dissipates. However, a stronger bond between Jerusalem and Paris may be prevented in light of France's support of the Palestinian Authority, and reports that Paris is one of Ramallah's biggest financial backers.