PARIS – Prime Minister Ariel Sharon completed a successful visit to France Thursday by meeting with local Jewish leaders. During the session, he told them the days ahead would be among the most difficult times in Israel’s history.
However, Sharon noted things would likely not be easier following the disengagement either, but added Israel was able to overcome difficulties in the past, and will emerge out of the pullout stronger and united.
The prime minister said his visit was a very successful one and noted that during meetings with top French officials he could sense the friendship and understanding between the two nations.
France and Israel see eye to eye when it comes to a series of questions of strategic importance currently on the agenda, he said.
During his meeting with Jewish leaders, Sharon also addressed global terror and noted the world has recently witnessed a wave of murderous attacks across the globe.
“Today it’s clear that terrorism is not only Israel’s problem,” he said, and added one must not compromise with terrorists. Sharon also called on the civilized world to combine its effort in the battle against radical Islamic terrorism.
‘Paris could use influence in Arab world to boost peace talks’
Meanwhile, Sharon appealed to France on Thursday to press the Palestinian
leadership to crack down on terrorists, and to push hard to stop Iran from developing nuclear weapons.
During his visit, the prime minister said Paris could use its influence in the Arab world to advance the peace process after Israel's planned pullout from the Gaza Strip next month.
"France can make the Palestinians understand that the negotiations and the fight against terrorism must move forward,” he told TF1 television in an interview. "The French ... are
capable of advancing the peace process.”
France has voiced its support for Sharon's plan to withdraw from Jewish settlements in Gaza as a step towards reviving negotiations on peace and Palestinian statehood.
Sharon also called for a tough line on Iran's nuclear program to prevent its arch foe from developing nuclear bombs.
"Iran is doing everything to acquire nuclear weapons despite the pressure of the French, the Germans and the British," יe told France 3 television.
"There will probably be no alternative but to take this problem to the U.N. Security Council and take sanctions against Iran," Sharon added.