(Communicated by the Prime Minister’s Media Adviser)
Prime Minister Ariel Sharon met this morning (Tuesday, 15 March 2005) with French Prime Minister Jean-Pierre Raffarin, who arrived in Israel for the dedication of the new Yad Vashem museum.
Prime Minister Sharon welcomed his French counterpart on his first visit to Israel as prime minister and expressed his appreciation for Prime Minister Raffarin’s decision to attend the dedication of the museum.
Prime Minister Sharon expressed his appreciation for the French government’s actions in the war against anti-Semitism and for its actions to prevent anti-Semitic incidents in France. He added that he appreciates the personal activity of Prime Minister Raffarin in the struggle against anti-Semitism, as well as his government’s actions in the fields of legislation, education, and law enforcement, including the draft decision to disband all neo-Nazi groups in France. He positively noted the two countries’ efforts in promoting bilateral relations despite their disagreements in the diplomatic sphere, and expressed his esteem for the continuing cooperation on military and security issues.
Prime Minister Sharon praised the actions of the French government led by Prime Minister Raffarin on preventing broadcasts by Hizbullah’s television station, Al Manar, and for its efforts to move the issue forward in the European arena.
Prime Minister Sharon emphasized the importance of including Hizbullah on the European Union’s list of terrorist organizations, with there being no distinction between Hizbullah’s military and political wings. The prime minister stressed that Hizbullah constitutes the main danger to the stability of Mahmoud Abbas’s (Abu Mazen’s) rule, encourages terrorist actions, and is
threatening the cease-fire that Abbas is trying to arrange with the rejectionist organizations.
On the Syrian issue, Prime Minister Sharon said that Israel supports the full implementation of UN Security Council Resolution #1559 and the withdrawal of all Syrian forces from Lebanon. However, it is important that much consideration be devoted to the "day after" in Lebanon and what they intend to do after the departure of the Syrian forces, mainly vis-a-vis Hizbullah and the Iranian Revolutionary Guards.
Prime Minister Sharon emphasized that it is important that it be made clear to the Palestinians that they must honor their Roadmap commitments, especially regarding a genuine war on terrorism and the dismantling of terrorist infrastructures. The prime minister added that, without genuine counterterrorist action by the Palestinians, it would not be possible to advance anything in the diplomatic process, and said that Israel would never compromise on security issues.
Prime Minister Raffarin said that there was an improvement in bilateral relations in all areas, and added that France is interested in promoting relations in all fields.
Regarding anti-Semitism, Prime Minister Raffarin said that the French government is fighting this phenomenon with full force. He said that the French government is making great efforts to identify anti-Semitic events and enact preventive, as well as punitive, policies in order to defeat this phenomenon. He told Prime Minister Sharon that a national-level interministerial committee had been established in France in order to deal with anti-Semitism.
On diplomatic issues, Prime Minister Raffarin said that he very much appreciates Prime Minister Sharon’s political courage in implementing the Disengagement Plan, and added that the plan
had created prospects for peace and new hope that the region has not seen in recent years.
Prime Minister Raffarin said that his country supports the clear outline of the Roadmap as well as Israel’s position, according to which there can be no diplomatic progress without the elimination of terrorism.
The meeting was held in a positive atmosphere. Prime Minister Sharon invited French President Jacques Chirac to visit Israel.