PARIS (JTA) — Benjamin Netanyahu met with French President Nicolas Sarkozy to stress the dire global threat of a nuclear-armed Iran and discuss plans for Israeli-Palestinian peace.
The leader of Israel’s right-leaning Likud Party, speaking Dec. 18 to a crowd hosted by the Jewish umbrella group CRIF, said that in his meeting with Sarkozy he evoked the "duty" of French and Western leaders to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons.
Earlier that day he told reporters, "A terribly dangerous threshold will be crossed" if Iran gains nuclear weapons.
Netanyahu is the front-runner in polls ahead of the February elections ahead of Tzipi Livni of the Kadima Party and Ehud Bark of Labor in the prime ministerial race.
France and the United States, with internationally popular leaders Sarkozy and President-elect Barack Obama, are in an unprecedented position to pressure Iran, Netanyahu said. He also said Iran was "weakened" by the recent drop in oil prices, providing a window of opportunity to increase "pressure today."
To questions about a recent French government suggestion to also make Jerusalem the capital of a Palestinian state, Netanyahu told a cheering crowd that "Jerusalem will always be the capital of Israel" and "will never go back to pre-’67 borders." He also said Palestinian refugees should not have any type of right of return to Israel.
Netanyahu said the Palestinians must have an economic boost to build a "foundation" for peace.
"Economic prosperity leads to a political resolution," he said.
Referring to the indirect Israeli-Syria peace talks that are bogged down, he added that Kadima’s "concessions to Syria don’t interest me at all."