(photo credit: REUTERS)
The best way to deal with Iran is through diplomacy and not military action,
said French President Nicolas Sarkozy to a Jewish group at an event in Paris on
Speaking at the annual dinner of the Conseil Représentatif des
Institutions Juives de France, the Jewish umbrella group better known by its
acronym CRIF, the president said he believed the recent round of sanctions
against the Islamic Republic would yield beneficial results.
solution is political, the solution is diplomatic, the solution is in
sanctions,” he said.
Sarkozy, who is known for his support of Israel,
said he also wanted to deliver the Islamic Republic a message that it had
“crossed a red line” by its insistence to continue developing its nuclear
program despite international condemnation.
He warned Israel from
carrying out “irreparable” actions, referring to rumors that Israel might launch
air strikes against Iran to prevent it from passing the nuclear
The French president defended his decision to support the
Palestinian bid for full membership at UNESCO, an organization based in
“Israelis, more than any other people, should be able to identify
with the Palestinians [yearning for a state],” he said.
commented on his bumpy relationship with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu. The
French president, who was overheard at a conference telling US President Barack
Obama that he thought Netanyahu was a “liar,” said the Israeli prime minister
was known for his “firmness” and needed to soften his policies towards the
“Someone who is firm must be open, because he doesn’t have
to prove his firmness and his strength,” he said of Netanyahu.
attended the event together with François Hollande, the Socialist candidate in
the French presidential elections that will be held later this year. Hollande,
who is currently leading in the polls, approached Sarkozy after his speech and
shook hands with him as photographers snapped photos.
Richard Prasquier told gatherers that while Israel was in the “heart of his
affections,” it was not beyond scrutiny.
The Jewish leader said he
disagreed with religious leaders in Israel whose worldview was “incompatible
with gender equality.”
He added he would not heed calls from Israeli
lawmakers to help change French law to allow the extradition of its citizens to
Israel, referring to the case in which two French citizens ran over an Israeli
woman, Lee Zeitouni, in Tel Aviv and fled the country.
Moving on to the
Arab Spring, Prasquier said the uprisings around the Middle East introduced new
hopes and fears into the region.
Although worried by “death to Jews”
chants that he heard at anti-government protests, he said the Middle East was
better without leaders like Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi, who was ousted from
power last year.
Prasquier expressed his disappointment with the
Palestinians at the conclusion of his speech. Their leadership is not willing to
recognize Israel’s right to exist, he said.
“The reality of the conflict,
Mr. President, is that despite all our hopes, all your hopes, the Palestinian
leaders have still not recognized that truth; we have not seen them with a map
containing the name Israel, we have not heard them admit that Jerusalem is a
foundational place for Israel,” he said.