France and Israel are united in their common battle against terrorism, French Ambassador Patrick Maisonnave told the fourth annual Jerusalem Post Diplomatic Conference in Jerusalem on Wednesday.
“Terrorism is terrorism. Not only when it affects us on such a horrendous scale, also when it hits Israel. And let me take this opportunity to have a thought for all the victims of the last few weeks, their beloved ones and the injured,” Maisonnave said.
He was joined on stage by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and greeted by Jerusalem Post editor-in-chief Steve Linde, who asked the audience to stand for a moment of silence for the victims of the Islamic State-backed terrorist attacks in France last week.
“In Jerusalem, today, we stand with the people of Paris.... This is not a figurative stance, it’s not just lip service,” Netanyahu said.
Jerusalem Post Diplomatic Conference: French Ambassador Patrick Maisonnave
“First of all, we stand and we do not fall.... We stand shoulder- to-shoulder, committed to defend our common civilization.
“It’s difficult for civilized men and women to recognize that our cities, our airways, sometimes our waterways, are prowled by beasts that devour the innocent in their way.
“The beasts increasingly have a name – it is radical Islam. That is what is doing the killing, the murder, the rape, the burning, the beheadings.
“We must stand together and fight together militant Islam.
The people of Israel grieve with you, the people of Israel stand with you. Now and always,” Netanyahu told Maisonnave.
The prime minister expressed that same sentiment Wednesday evening in a call to French President Francois Hollande.
The two men will meet in 10 days in Paris when Netanyahu travels there to join world leaders at the international climate conference.
At the conference in Jerusalem, Maisonnave thanked Israel for its outpouring of support in the aftermath of the attacks, including Netanyahu’s decision to fly Israel’s flags at half mast on Saturday and rallies of solidarity in Tel Aviv and other cities throughout the country.
“In critical moments like these, we measure the unwavering friendship that unites our two countries. I would like to thank the Israeli people from the bottom of my heart,” Maisonnave said.
In this time of crisis and sorrow, “France does not stand alone,” and Israel is one of the countries that has stood by its side, Maisonnave said.
Like France, Israel has long been targeted by terrorism, he said, adding that while the two countries can differ on diplomatic issues, they are united on other fronts, particularly the war against terrorism.
“The solidarity and empathy we feel toward the Israeli democracy when it is under attack by terror is sincere,” he said.
“We know that the Israeli- Palestinian conflict is not the source of everything that is wrong in neighboring countries.”
At the same time, however, he said the situation in the Middle East would be improved if the conflict were resolved.
“We precisely need to prevent this national-territorial conflict from turning into an existential religious clash hijacked by Daesh [Arabic acronym for Islamic State] and fueling all kinds of extremists.
For this, we are convinced that parties must provide a political horizon, a hope for a solution,” Maisonnave said.
He also clarified that he does not believe the West is engaged in a war of civilizations with the Muslim world.
“French people of Muslim faith were not and will not be our enemies. This is not being naïve. It’s about who we are. I strongly reject that kind of broad categorization of an entire population.
“In a democracy, there is only one relevant criterion: Are you ready to abide by our laws and our values? “Individuals who propagate hate and violence, be it anti-Semitic violence or anti- French violence, will be dealt with by a strong hand and by all available legal means.
“While respecting our core values, rest assured that France will continue to fight terrorism inspired by radical Islam. It is a cruel and elusive enemy, but I am certain, together, we will prevail,” the ambassador said.