PM Netanyahu and French President Hollande 370.
(photo credit: REUTERS/Philippe Wojazer)
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu on Wednesday challenged French President François Hollande to arrange peace talks between the Palestinians and Israelis.
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The prime minister met with Hollande at the Champs D'elysees shortly after he arrived in Paris, where they discussed Iran, the peace process, the Middle East and the issue of anti-Semitism in France.
Regarding the stalled peace process with the Palestinians, Netanyahu challenged the French president to organize negotiations with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.
Netanyahu repeated his claim that he had no preconditions for talks, while Hollande assured the Israeli leader that the Palestinians also were without preconditions.
The two positions were more in line on the Iranian issue, as Hollande called for concrete acts by Iran to combat the alleged nuclear arms drive.
In addition to meeting France’s leaders in Paris, Netanyahu will also be traveling to Toulouse to participate in a memorial service at the Jewish school where a terrorist in March murdered a rabbi and three school children.
This is Netanyahu’s fourth visit to France, and his 33rd trip abroad since taking office in 2009. The only countries he has visited more times than France during his current term in office are the US (9 visits) and Egypt (6 trips).
During his two-day visit to France, Netanyahu is also scheduled to meet with his French counterpart Prime Minister Jean- Marc Ayrault and Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius.
Netanyahu will travel to Toulouse with Hollande.
This will be Netanyahu’s first serious meeting with Hollande, whom he met once only briefly in 2003.
The two have, however, held a number of telephone calls since Hollande defeated Nicolas Sarkozy in French elections earlier this year. In an interview with Netanyahu said he will be looking to discuss “concrete steps to intensify the sanctions against Iran,” as well as the “convulsions in the region” and terrorism.
“I think we must do more together to fight terrorism,” he said. “One mustn’t reduce this to a matter of religion. This is a fight between moderates that want modernity and others, radicals, who by force would like to force values on us and take us back to past times that were more unhappy.”Herb Keinon contributed to this report.