Hollande visit to demonstrate closer French-Israeli ties

 

French President Francois Hollande’s visit to Israel, including meeting with PM Netanyahu, President Peres, and an address at the Knesset, will facilitate stronger financial & diplomatic ties between the two countries.

Jerusalem to demonstrate it thanks for France’s actions in representing Israel’s interests.

By Attila Somfalvi

French President Francois Hollande will arrive to Israel on Sunday for a visit in which he will meet Prime Minster Benjamin Netanyahu and President Shimon Peres, and address the Knesset.

PM Netanyahu with President Hollande - Photo: EP

PM Netanyahu with President Hollande – Photo: EP

Hollande has seen a decrease in support of France, but in Israel, he is unprecedentedly welcome, as he is seen as the man responsible for preventing a Geneva treaty with Iran from happening.

“The French prevented the treaty from being signed,” a security official said regarding Hollande’s upcoming visit. “They set further conditions, which prevented the deal. The Iranians just would not sign the treaty the way the French demanded it.”

Some are seeking to improve France’s status in Israel; France’s ambassador to Israel, Patrick Maisonnave, made it clear that his country expects gratitude from Israel to stand out during the visit. “We have always been on the Israeli side when it comes to Iran or Israel’s security,” Maisonnave said. “After the talks in Geneva I got the impression Israel wants to thank us for our efforts. Relations between Israel and France have known their ups and downs, but France has always been a country that Israel knew it could lean on and France would be true to it.”

“The French president is a close friend of the State of Israel and I look forward to hosting him and his partner Valérie Trierweiler in Israel, especially at this time when the major powers, including France, are discussing ways to halt the Iranian nuclear program,” Netanyahu said Thursday.

“I am also pleased to host his team and French government ministers, including Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius, who is taking an active and important part in the talks currently being held by the major powers. Together we will work to advance and deepen bilateral strategic and economic relations,” the prime minister added.

Israel-France ties have known its ups and downs during the years, and France supported Israel’s nuclear development, according to reports. Since 1967 and the building of settlements, France has been sounding an increasingly negative voice towards Israel, including cries to boycott it, which Maisonnave emphatically refutes.

 

Financial angles

The financial ties between France and Israel is reasonable, but France is only 11th on the list of Israel’s financial partners. The French ambassador called to fortify ties between the countries: “We need to convince French companies their future depends on their presence in Israel, and we expect Israeli companies to be more present in the French market. That’s one of the main goals of this visit: To convince Israelis they have a real chance in France,” an Israeli official said.

Foreign Ministry representatives noted that France has been consistent on its stance on Iran. “They’ve been leading for 15 years; it’s just showing now because they’re taking command, as the Americans got cold feet,” the source added.

Still, there are doubts on whether Holland is even invested in the Mideast region, as he has been more focused on improving relations with Germany and mending France’s troubled economy since his election.

According to the source, French forces were the first to attempt a military intervention in Syria after the chemical attack on August 21, but were halted by Americans. “The French have a willingness to fight, and it’s showing. You have to give them credit. President Hollande’s visit comes at a good time.”

 

View original Ynet publication at: http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-4454161,00.html

 

 

 

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