Sunday, November 22, 2009

French FM: I came to Israel pessimistic and left OPTIMISTIC

(Ynet, Ma'an).French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner said in an interview published Saturday that he had "arrived (in Israel) a pessimist, but left as an optimist from talks with Israeli leaders".

Israel's plan to build 900 new housing units in the illegal settlement of Gilo is "more than regrettable," but not entirely Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's fault, according to French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner.

In an interview with the French Libération magazine that was published on Saturday, Kouchner said the announcement "didn't come from the prime minister, but from the municipality of Gilo. Anyway, this is not an excuse and France condemns all forms of settlement."

Kouchner also said that after meeting with the prime minister, he was relieved that Netanyahu appeared interested in reaching an agreement with Palestine. "I arrived pessimistic but after long talks with Israeli leaders... more optimistic."

"I think he is determined to make a move. Which exactly? I do not know," he said. "We forget that Netanyahu had never accepted the idea of a Palestinian state before he was re-elected. Today he accepts it."

"I could be wrong, but the establishment of a democratic Palestinian state seems the only way to secure Israel's safety, which we very much desire to do."

Regarding the Iranian threat Kouchner said, "Israel has never disguised its suspicions of the threat Iran can achieve by creating a nuclear weapon. Israel warns against this, and it knows France's position."

He added that Iran had not yet responded to offers made by world powers regarding its store of uranium, and said Tehran was engaging in self-destructive behavior.

"If Iran develops a nuclear weapon – this will not be acceptable to us. We must not add another threat to the region," he said.