"You have made some bad decisions, like the expansion of settlements and east Jerusalem, where the construction is not good for Israel," said French President Nicolas Sarkozy during his visit to President Shimon Peres' Residence in Jerusalem. He added that "the best and only guarantee for the State of Israel is an independent, democratic Palestinian state at its side."
Regarding the state of the Middle East, Sarkozy said, "France believes that for a long time now there has been too much suffering and death. France believes there is no point in waiting for more years to count more deaths. What for? There is an immediate need for peace. We won't wait until tomorrow. It's time to turn the page. France believes in peace between the Israelis and the Palestinians."
He added that France would be happy to assist Israel. "The French nation is with you. We want to help you politically, economically, and militarily if you would like," he said.
Peres responded by saying, "There are no disagreements between us on the issue of the Palestinian state and the settlements. However, we evacuated many settlements in Gaza and the unfortunate result is Hamas firing at civilians, firing missiles at them.
"I believe in peace, and two successes to learn from are Egypt and Jordan. We paid full price and despite the problems many lives were saved due to these agreements. I would be glad if you could transfer the message to Assad: There is no substitute for peace. But leaders that want to make peace must do it themselves. Assad must understand that a mental change must come."
Peres, Sarkozy, and Bruni meet. (AFP)
Peres joked, "You have a great vision, but that doesn't mean there won't be obstacles on the way. You supply the vision, and we'll supply the obstacles. We want a Middle East without abductees. There may only be three, but it is a humane and emotional matter. The entire country is on its toes."
The French president flattered Peres by saying, "We are very excited to be here, beside the man symbolizing all of Israel's history. Shimon, you are a man of construction, one of the founders, and the young memory of the State. You are the roots of this country.
The Iranian nuclear threat also came up, and Sarkozy said that "the Iranian crisis is the largest in the world. Israel is not alone in this crisis. France will always stand beside you and assist you when needed."