French FM: We are opposed to unilateral acts

"It's unacceptable that a border declared unilaterally would be accepted by the world," he says.

By ETGAR LEFKOVITS
May 17, 2006 17:22
2 minute read.
danny ayalon 88

danny ayalon 88. (photo credit: )

In the first major diplomatic blow to Olmert's unilateral withdrawal plan, Douste-Blazy said Wednesday that France opposed unilateral decisions over the final borders between Israel and the Palestinian territories. "It's unacceptable that a border declared unilaterally would be accepted by the world," Douste-Blazy said during a visit to Jerusalem, where he met with Olmert and Livni. The French foreign minister praised Olmert's stated preference for negotiations with the Palestinians over expected unilateral moves, saying that now was the time to turn those actions into words, and cautioning that unilateral moves could strengthen Palestinian extremists. Livni, who called the French foreign minister "a true friend" during their joint press conference, noted that the international community was generally opposed to unilateral moves, but stressed that the Israeli plan was meant to promote a two-state solution. Despite the current difference in world views over Olmert's convergence plan, whereby Israel would withdraw from scores of isolated West Bank settlements while strengthening the major settlement blocs, Douste-Blazy concurred with Israel that Hamas must recognize Israel and renounce violence before any negotiations could take place, and vowed not to have any contacts with the Islamic terror group until they moderated their views. Olmert told the French foreign minister that while Israel would support the establishment of a fund for humanitarian aid to the Palestinians, and would be willing to buy and transfer medicine to Palestinian hospitals - with tens of millions of dollars of frozen tax money it collects for the Palestinian government - it would not transfer the money to pay the salaries of 165,000 Palestinian public sector employees. "Medicines don't shoot at Israel's citizens," Olmert said, according to his office. Earlier this month, French President Jacques Chirac urged the international community to establish a World Bank fund to pay Palestinian salaries to avert a humanitarian crisis among the Palestinians. During their joint press conference, both the French and Israeli foreign ministers were at pains to stress that often-frosty French-Israeli relations, largely soured by Chirac's overtly pro-Arab views, had markedly improved in the wake of former prime minister Ariel Sharon's visit to France last year, which both ministers hailed as a turning-point in previously sour, bordering on bitter, relations. Earlier in the day, Douste-Blazy said the UN Security Council may have to impose sanctions on Iran if the Islamic Republic did not halt its nuclear program. Separately, the international boycott against Hamas continued to fray Wednesday, with China announcing it will host the hard-line foreign minister of the Hamas-led Palestinian Authority, Mahmoud Zahar, for a Beijing conference on China-Arab relations later this month. Zahar has ruled out ever recognizing Israel. China's outreach to Arab states comes at a time when its trade with the Arab world has grown tenfold in the past decade, to over $51 billion last year, with oil imports accounting for 40 percent - or $20b. - of the figure, The Associated Press reported from Beijing.


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