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Israel welcomes Sarkozy win

The Israeli government welcomed Nicolas Sarkozy’s election as French president. Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said Sarkozy’s win Sunday would be a boost to Israeli-French relations, which have been strained by France’s strong pro-Palestinian slant during the intifada.

“I am convinced that cooperation between us will be fruitful and that together we will be able to advance diplomatic activity and peace in our region,” Olmert’s office quoted him as saying, adding that he considers France “one of the most important and influential countries in both Europe and the world.”

Israeli opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu, a personal friend of the conservative Sarkozy, predicted that French policies toward Israel would improve.

“Obviously it will no longer be characterized by a reflexive anti-Israeliness, that is to say, considering Israel guilty until proven otherwise,” Netanyahu wrote Monday in Yediot Achronot. “I think the policy will be a lot more balanced.”

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