Netanyahu: "I want to commend you for the strong position, France’s position, for very tough and even tougher sanctions against Iran. The sanctions are taking a bite out of Iran’s economy, but unfortunately, to date, they have not stopped the Iranian program. I spoke very clearly at the United Nations and put forward what I believe is the clear red line, that the international community must place against Iran’s nuclear weapons program."
Following is a transcription of Prime Minister Netanyahu’s comments at a joint press conference with French President Hollande:
Thank you, Mr. President.
I want to thank you first for the hospitality you showed me and my delegation. The warmth, the openness. I’m very proud that I will go tomorrow with you to Toulouse to give our common position against anti-Semitism, against extremism – extremism directed against Jews and non-Jews – and against terrorism. I think this is the foundation of our common civilization. We espouse freedom and we stand together against those who kill freedom and kill innocent human beings.
So I’m very proud of this partnership. It’s going so well that we didn’t need to discuss our bilateral ties because they are proceeding so smoothly. But I did ask you, Mr. President, and you agreed to respond, to come to Israel so I can reciprocate your hospitality, and to welcome you in Israel as the President of France. I caution the President that I’m not sure we’ll have the same setting for lunch that we had in the Élysée. It’s hard to replicate this. But I think we can replicate the warmth and the openness of our continued and continuing conversations.
In these conversations the first topic that we spent much time on, as you said Mr. President was Iran. And I want to commend you for the strong position, France’s position, for very tough and even tougher sanctions against Iran. I think this is very very important. The sanctions are taking a bite out of Iran’s economy, but as I said to you, unfortunately, to date, they have not stopped the Iranian program. It continues, unfortunately, and it’s something that I think is of common concern to Israel and to France, to the United States, to Europe, to just about every one of the Arab countries in the Middle East, and to everyone who wants to see a safe and secure world.
That is not commensurate with the Ayatollahs having atomic bombs. That is why I spoke very clearly at the United Nations and put forward what I believe is the red line, clear red line, that the international community must place against Iran’s nuclear weapons program.
We also spoke about Syria. And I think we share the common information about the extent of Iran’s and Hizbullah’s support and propping up of the Syrian regime and that’s another reason to curtail Iranian power. And also to expose this collusion and mass murder of Iran and Hizbullah.
I spoke about the need to prevent another set of weapons of mass death from falling into the wrong hands. I’m speaking about the Syrian stock of chemical weapons. These are all threats to peace and security.
We also spoke about how to advance peace and security – by our negotiation with the Palestinians, with our Palestinian neighbors and the Palestinian Authority. I stand ready to resume these negotiations. I was ready from the day I was elected Prime Minister. This was my policy, this will remain our policy.
The distance between Ramallah and Jerusalem is all of seven minutes. It takes longer to cross a few blocks in Paris. It’s very close. There’s no reason why we shouldn’t sit down together. It’s not an easy negotiation. We understand that there will be important steps that Israel will take, there will be important steps that the Palestinian Authority will have to take. The only way we can complete a negotiation is if we begin them.
Going to the UN with unilateral declarations and unilateral actions is not negotiations. It’s the opposite of negotiations. I think after four years that we have tried, repeatedly to get the Palestinians to come and negotiate; it’s about time to sit down and do so. As I said, this is the policy of my government; This will always be my policy.
I want to thank you Mr. President for the time that you gave me and my colleagues, for your openness, for your friendship. May I even say your warmth? This is not usually something that political leaders say, but I say it. I feel a great warmth and openness and a great friendship and I want you to know that it is fully reciprocated.
Thank you Mr. President.
In response to a questions PM Netanyahu replied:
On negotiations with the Palestinians:
I have no conditions whatsoever. I am willing to go to negotiations right away without any preconditions. If you want to test that, then President Hollande can invite President Abbas to the Élysée, and I’m here, I’m ready. It will take him a day to get here. We can start. From my point of view it’s immediate, and without preconditions.
Given the history of the Jewish people, I would not sit by and write off a threat by those who say they are going to annihilate us. If somebody says that they’re going to annihilate us and they intend to arm themselves with nuclear weapons we take them seriously. Whether or not they want to become a world power is irrelevant. In fact it actually may be tied in reverse. It’s when they have the power to annihilate us that they go ahead and proceed. Iran wants both. It wants to be a world power and it wants to annihilate us and it wants to re-establish a caliphate that includes good chunks of Europe.
It has even other fantasies that are very dangerous. Fantasies in the arms of very extreme leaders are always dangerous, but when they are backed up with atomic bombs, they’re 100 times more dangerous, and this is something that is of interest for Israel to stop and the Jewish people to stop and the rest of the world that is concerned with peace and security to stop.