French President Nicolas Sarkozy said his country will work to ensure Israel’s security.
Sarkozy also told the Israeli newspapers Yediot Achronot and Maariv in their Friday weekend editions that France would negotiate with Palestinians and Israelis for a peace accord.
“Those who scandalously call for the destruction of Israel will always find themselves faced with France blocking their road,” he said.
The French leader called on Israel to make a significant gesture of peaceful compromise toward the Palestinians, adding that its recent loosening of travel restrictions in the West Bank was positive but not a significant enough message of peace.
“It doesn’t live up to the high standard of what is at stake,” he said. “Needless to say I am aware of the security risks, but if we don’t want to see the political process fail, which is now under way, one must create a shock of trust toward the Palestinian population. I do not underestimate the power of such gestures.”
Sarkozy recently invited Syrian leader Bashar Assad to the Paris Bastille Day celebration July 14 in a diplomatic move that shocked many in France, which severed most relations with Syria in 2005.
Sarkozy reiterated that Israel must “freeze colonization, the principal obstacle to peace.”
The president also spoke of French support for increased sanctions against Iran, justified his recent friendly outreach toward Assad and praised last month’s Doha accord, which filled a leadership gap in Lebanon while giving significant political power to the opposition party, Hezbollah.
Sarkozy explained that his rapprochement with Syria was due to its role in bringing to a close an 18-month Lebanese power struggle that placed the country on the brink of civil war.
However, the Doha accord is viewed with skepticism by many Western leaders because it gives the Syrian-backed Hezbollah significant parliamentary power while its appointed Lebanese president is
considered neither pro-Western, nor pro-Hezbollah.
“I find for my part that it’s a balanced accord, without a winner or loser,” Sarkozy said. “Or rather, yes, with a winner: the Lebanese people as a whole.”