Nicolas Sarkozy: France is a friend to Israel, not a nation of anti-Semites

From a speech at the Herzliya Conference in Israel, by the leader of the French Union for a Popular Movement
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The Independent Online

Coming from the outside, I cannot fully share your pain and suffering. France and Israel have stated their friendship; however we have many misunderstandings between us. Israel likes France, but does not always believe that France reciprocates this feeling. Surveys have shown that many Israelis believe that the French are anti-Semitic.

Coming from the outside, I cannot fully share your pain and suffering. France and Israel have stated their friendship; however we have many misunderstandings between us. Israel likes France, but does not always believe that France reciprocates this feeling. Surveys have shown that many Israelis believe that the French are anti-Semitic.

You must understand, and believe me, that we are aware of and are horrified by the anti-Semitic acts that have taken place in France. We are fighting it. Anti-Semitism is not the problem of French Jews, it is the problem of the entire country of France. When I was Minister of the Interior, one of my priorities was fighting anti-Semitism.

France is a friend to Israel. We have much in common - there are many French Jews living here in Israel. Historically, France and Israel have shared several important experiences together. We have strong economic, trade and business ties. We have joint projects together. France puts trust in Israel.

I know that Europe may bring up bad memories, but we should work on strengthening the relationship: we share a sea, we are neighbours, we have cultural similarities. The first reflex for Israelis is to turn to the United States for economic cooperation, but Europe must not be forgotten. We can help Israel to realise her vision. We can work together in the fields of hi-tech R&D. There is a lot of potential there, and Israel should be more involved in European commerce.

Regarding the Palestinians, France is sympathetic to their cause, and I believe that most Palestinians do want peace. Israel is a democracy, with strong values, and through negotiations a just Palestinian state should be established, one with free and democratic elections.

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