More sanctions are needed to halt Iran’s nuclear program, both Prime Minister
Binyamin Netanyahu and French President François Hollande agreed at a joint
press conference in Paris on Wednesday.
“We are prepared to vote in favor
of more sanctions, as many sanctions as necessary,” Hollande said.
our duty to put pressure on Iran and to call for more sanctions. We will
continue to do so in the coming weeks and months,” he said.
month the EU announced tighter restrictions
on trade with Iran, adding to
already comprehensive international sanctions aimed at forcing Tehran to halt
its nuclear program.
Netanyahu landed in France for a two-day visit – his
first since Hollande took office in May.
The two men spoke very warmly,
with Netanyahu stating that he felt toward Hollande, “an openness and a great
friendship.” Netanyahu even made use of his high school French to say a few
On Thursday Hollande will fly with Netanyahu to
Toulouse for a special memorial service for four Jewish victims of a terror
attack, a teacher and three children, who were killed when a gunmen attacked the
city’s Ozer Hatorah school
At Wednesday’s press conference,
Netanyahu thanked Hollande for his plans to attend the memorial
“I’m very proud that I will go tomorrow with you to Toulouse to
give our common position against anti- Semitism, against extremism – extremism
directed against Jews and non-Jews – and against terrorism,” Netanyahu
He also applauded Hollande’s strong stance against Iranian nuclear
weapons; even though the French leader clarified that he believes that
diplomacy, and not a military strike, was the best way to halt Iran’s nuclear
Netanyahu reiterated his message that the international
community must set a red line when it comes to Iran’s nuclear
But when reporters quizzed Hollande about the possibility of a
military strike against Iran, the French leader responded by stating: “That is
not the scenario that I am planning for today.
“We must make sure that
through pressure and later through negotiations, Iran renounces its intention to have access to nuclear weapons,” he said.
Netanyahu responded by stating,
“This is our desire too, by the way.” But he noted that Iran posed a danger to
Israel, the region and to the world.
He added that in light of Jewish
history, “I would not sit by and write off a threat by those who say they are
going to annihilate us.” With respect to the safety of Jews in France, he said
that the government was clearly fighting anti-Semitism.
“I see not only
no tolerance to anti-Semitism, I see a very clear determination to fight
anti-Semitism,” Netanyahu said.
He added that this hatred toward Jews
came from “very violent quarters” that threaten everyone in France and in
Hollande agreed that when a French citizen was threatened
for being Jewish, “then the whole of the French Republic is threatened.” French
Jewish citizens, he said, had a right to live safely in their
The two leaders also spoke about the need to rekindle the long
frozen peace talks.
Netanyahu said he would be happy to meet Palestinian
Authority President Mahmoud Abbas in Paris.
“I am willing to go to
negotiations right away without any preconditions,” Netanyahu said.
you want to test that, then President Hollande can invite President Abbas to the
Élysée, and I’m here, I’m ready. It will take him a day to get here. We can
start. From my point of view it’s immediate, and without preconditions,”
Netanyahu said at the press conference.
Hollande seemed please by his
“That is a wonderful proposal,” Hollande responded.
meet Abbas twice since my election and I hope the third meeting will be held
with Prime Minister Netanyahu if he [Abbas] agrees,” Hollande said.
the idea is not to lay down basic principles, but to enter into negotiations,”
He added that he hoped both men would come to the table
“Abbas says he has no preconditions. The
Israeli prime minister has no pre-conditions,” said Hollande. “Let’s negotiate,”
Netanyahu responded, “President Hollande is free to make a
phone call.” Hollande said that he believed a two state solution was best
achieved through negotiations.
He spoke against unilateral measures such
as the Palestinian bid for non-member state status at the United Nations, a move
that would grant them de-facto recognition of statehood.
“It is tempting
for the Palestinian Authority to seek from the General Assembly what it cannot
achieve from negotiations with Israel,” said Hollande.
His words sounded
different from that of his predecessor Nicolas Sarkozy, under whose leadership
France supported the Palestinian bid last fall to become a member state of the
United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization.
Israeli official said he believed that if the vote were taken again this fall,
France’s position would be different.
The Palestinians have refused to
negotiate with Israel until it stops building in West Bank settlements and
Jewish neighborhoods of east Jerusalem.
Netanyahu has refused to heed
that request, and has insisted that talks should move forward without
“I was ready from the day I was elected prime minister.
This was my policy, this will remain our policy,” he said.
between Ramallah and Jerusalem is all of seven minutes. It takes longer to cross
a few blocks in Paris. It’s very close. There’s no reason why we shouldn’t sit
down together,” Netanyahu said.
“We understand that there will be
important steps that Israel will take, there will be important steps that the
Palestinian Authority will have to take. The only way we can complete a
negotiation is if we begin them,” Netanyahu said.
Hollande’s words in
support of a negotiated settlements, was part of a two-day visit that began on
positive and friendly note, which strengthen the relationship between
Although there were some notes of discord, France does not support
a military strike against Iran and it believes that Israel must stop settlement
But the two leaders also found common agreement on the need to
stiffen Iranian sanctions and to combat anti-Semitism.
A senior official
said that Hollande was a true friend of Israel’s.
On Wednesday, Netanyahu
also met with the finance minister. He planned to meet his counterpart on Wednesday night.
Meanwhile, Defense Minister Ehud
Barak was in London hammering home the same message
about Iran in meetings with
the UK’s defense and foreign ministers.Reuters contributed to this