Sarkozy: Israel is not stronger than the Palestinians

Wikileaks reveals that French president expected to tell Netanyahu in 2009 that Israel out of time, 2-state solution only alternative.

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December 20, 2010 19:28
3 minute read.
French President Nicolas Sarkozy at NATO summit

French President Nicolas Sarkozy 311 AP. (photo credit: AP)

 
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French President Nicolas Sarkozy had three stark messages for Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu when they met in Paris in June 2009, according to a WikiLeaks cable released late on Sunday night:

“You think you’ve got time, but you don’t.”

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“You think you have an alternative solution, but you don’t.”

“You think you’re stronger than the Palestinians, but you’re not.”

Those bleak assertions to be delivered by Sarkozy were relayed to US officials in Paris ahead of the meeting by Patrice Paoli, director for North Africa and the Middle East at France’s Foreign Ministry.

Paoli added that Sarkozy would stress that “there is a single door and it is imperative to move through it now.”



He told his US interlocutors that France was disappointed with the reservations contained in Netanyahu’s speech at Bar-Ilan University that same month, in which the prime minister for the first time said he would accept a demilitarized Palestinian state.

Still, Paoli said, the speech reflected significant movement in the Likud’s position on the matter.

France supported the US efforts to broker peace between Israel and the Palestinians and wanted to get involved in advance of a consensus position on the matter by the 27 EU states, Paoli said.

Specifically, France wanted to help push Israel to freeze settlements and in the monitoring of an eventual peace agreement, Paoli said.

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The issue of monitoring was a flaw in the Annapolis process, he said, and added, “The US can not be the only judge of progress.”

During a visit to Paris earlier in June 2009, Defense Minister Ehud Barak had told French officials that Israel had a “secret accord” with the US to continue natural growth in the settlements, Paoli also said.

Paoli added that the Obama administration’s credibility would be judged by its attitude toward the settlements.

French Foreign Ministry official Ludovic Pouille, who also attended the meeting with the US officials, stressed that the settlement issue was a key one in the Arab world.

“Arabs are saying progress on settlements is crucial. Saudi Arabia and Egypt seem obsessed with the settlements issue; they won’t even enter the game without progress on settlements,” he said, according to WikiLeaks

Meanwhile, in December 2009, after Israel had imposed a 10-month moratorium on new settlement development, Netanyahu’s adviser Ron Dermer told US Senate staff members that Israeli gestures to the Palestinians had not swayed them to return to the negotiating table, according to a separate cable sent out of the US Embassy in Tel Aviv and also published by WikiLeaks late Sunday.

Dermer told the Senate staff that 70 percent of Israelis opposed the moratorium, but that the prime minister had made the gesture anyway in hopes of restarting the negotiations.

Netanyahu believes that Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas is not as weak as he claims and can negotiate peace, Dermer said. Abbas must now make some sort of gesture in return, he added.

Israel understands Abbas’s political constraints and lack of support from Arab regional partners, said Dermer. But at the end of the day, Abbas must “be a leader,” he said.

He said the PA president was trying to internationalize the conflict, a move Dermer classified as a “big mistake.”

Israeli concessions to the Palestinians have been devalued because they were offered outside the context of the negotiations, Dermer said. “Give us context,” he said.

Israel will not make any more concessions to Abbas with the aim of swaying him to return to the negotiation table. “That is over,” Dermer said.

He wanted to know what the Palestinians had done to push forward the negotiations. He added that he believed that the PA’s security improvements were not about creating a climate for negotiations but rather should be seen as a simple effort to preserve power.

The Israeli public, Dermer said, was skeptical about the benefits of negotiations and it would be difficult for Netanyahu to approach the cabinet about peace talks, given that Israel’s efforts to date had been rejected by the international community.

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