Prime Minister Manuel Valls (L) with Rivlin
Prime Minister Manuel Valls (L) with RivlinMark Neiman / GPO

French Prime Minister Manuel Valls met with President Reuven Rivlin Monday, during an official state visit.

"We welcome you as a true friend of Israel, and we are pleased that despite your hectic schedule during this period that you were able to come and visit Israel," Rivlin stated Monday. "The relationship between our countries is the continuation of longstanding strong and excellent relations between us."

"The Israeli people, and the State of Israel will never forget the tremendous help we received from France at the time of and in the run up to the establishment of the State, and until this day," he continued. "We know that the world's attention is today focused on the fight against fundamentalist terrorism which strikes every place."

Rivlin rejected the idea of French-brokered negotiations, however.

"We are aware and appreciate your attention to the issue of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict," he began. "We are convinced, Mr. Prime Minister, friend of Israel, that the only way to bring an end to this tragedy of 150 years between us and our cousins the Palestinians, is through direct negotiations."

"In the Middle East, there are no shortcuts," he added. "Reaching an understanding and an agreement requires direct negotiations out of mutual trust, with both sides truly wanting to live side by side in peace in this land."

"The Israeli people are in no doubt of your sincere and good intentions to bringing a solution to the conflict, but we are concerned that going through international channels will make redundant our demand of the Palestinian side, and the Palestinian President, to come and talk directly with us in order to find a solution, a lasting solution for peace between us and others living in this land, the Palestinians," he reiterated. 

Mark Neiman / GPO

Valls thanked the President for his warm welcome.

"I am very pleased to begin my visit here in Jerusalem, and that my first meeting in this visit is here with you President Rivlin," he said. "I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart for your warm hospitality and words."

"You are a man of great experience – even before your election as President – and I am looking forward to hearing from you in our discussion about your vision and your analysis of the region," he continued. "I would also be pleased to hear your analysis on the issue of the relationship with the Palestinians, and of ways in which a true peace could be reached, coexistence between the states, living together, Israelis and Palestinians."

"You can rest assured that France is sincere in its intentions and desire to try and help Israelis and Palestinians once and for all find a way to a long-awaited peace," he added. 

"I want to once again thank you for hospitality, and express again the deep friendship, mine and my country's, and the unequivocal, undeniable commitment, mine and my country's, to the fight against anti-Semitism. We as the French people will not give up in this fight."