President Reuven Rivlin
President Reuven Rivlin Mark Neyman

President Reuven Rivlin on Sunday spoke at a conference at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, where he spoke about France's threat last Friday that it will recognize "Palestine" if peace talks do not begin.

Addressing Israeli ambassadors, counsels and diplomatic delegation chiefs, Rivlin said, "Israel is today a strong country. The Israel Defense Forces, and security services know the field of operations well and understand the growing and increasingly complex challenges, while the international arena in which you represent the State of Israel is more complex than ever."

The president emphasized that the Foreign Ministry is tasked with "defending Israel against propaganda attacks and international pressure," and likewise it must lead diplomatic efforts to advance the state and protect its interests.

Relating to French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius's recent comments, Rivlin said, "in the last few days comments were made by the French Foreign Minister relating to an international peace conference."

"In relation to this I wish to say - it is proper that the dialogue between us and our close allies on all issues relating to the security of Israel and its citizens should be conducted in a direct manner, not above Israel's heads in a conference with many participants."

Rivlin added, "it must not be allowed in the current absence of a political process, that we will be condemned to passivity. The improvement in the state of the relations between the two peoples is a distinct Israeli interest which must go alongside the active and assertive defense of the State of Israel and its citizens."

"The State of Israel needs a strong Ministry of Foreign Affairs whose voice, recommendations, and analyses are heard clearly internally and externally. We must work to ensure that the foreign service, you, in your professional standing, receive the trust and opportunity to build bridges and bonds which enable not only the communication of Israel's spirit and innovation, but also personify these values."

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu also addressed the French threat on Sunday at a Cabinet meeting, saying, "you certainly heard of the proposal being raised in certain quarters in France, to convene an international conference with the threat at the end that if it is unsuccessful, then France will – to a large degree – adopt the Palestinian position."

"This will be an incentive for the Palestinians to come and not compromise. The substance of negotiations is compromise and the French initiative, as it has been reported, in effect gives the Palestinians in advance reasons not to do so. I believe that we will see a sobering up on this issue. In any case, we will work to bring this about and our position is very clear: We are prepared to enter into direct negotiations without preconditions and without dictated conditions."