French envoy says Paris not hostile to J'lem

Bigot: France working hard with Israel on Iran; Zeitouni suspects remain free because Israel hasn't asked for their arrest.

French Ambassador to Israel Christophe Bigot 311 (R) (photo credit: Pool / Reuters)
French Ambassador to Israel Christophe Bigot 311 (R)
(photo credit: Pool / Reuters)
French Ambassador to Israel Christophe Bigot on Monday refuted a suggestion that France has become one of Israel's largest critics in recent years, instead saying that Paris is one of Jerusalem's best friends. "Look at what we are doing on Iran," he offered in an interview with Army Radio Monday morning, adding that Paris and other Eureopean countries were expected to pass strong sanctions on Iran later in the day.
However he noted that France does disagree with Israel on issues of the peace process, saying he believes "Israelis and Palestinians should be more ambitious."
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The lack of progress in the peace process, he said, is frustrating.
Asked about a recent report by French parliamentarians accusing Israel of instituting "apartheid" water policies in the West Bank, Bigot clarified that the report was "not a report by the French parliament, it is a report by a few members of the French parliament." He explained that just as in democracies such as Israel, not each lawmaker has the same opinions. The report, he added, "is not the view of the French authorities."
Addressing the case of two French Jews who escaped prosecution in Israel for a deadly hit-and-run accident last year, Bigot offered his explanation for why the suspects are still walking free in Paris. "They have not been arrested because the Israeli authorities have not yet asked us to arrest them," he said. "We are ready to arrest them and charge them as soon as possible," adding, "I said from the very day of this shameful drama that justice needs to be done." The family of Lee Zeitouni and Israeli authorities, he explained, want the suspects to be brought to Israel to stand trial, "but it is not (legally) possible for France to extradite its citizens," the French ambassador explained. "So if we cannot extradite, then there is no other way than to charge them in France."