France stands at the forefront, alongside the United States of America and Europe, in its steadfast opposition to Iran’s attempt to acquire nuclear weapons and its development of long range missiles. We appreciate France’s strong stance, under your leadership.

 French President Hollande welcomed at the President's Residence

 

Copyright: GPO/Mark Neiman

President Shimon Peres (Sunday, 17 November 2013), at his Jerusalem Residence, delivered the following remarks at the welcome ceremony for French President Francois Hollande:

"Welcome to Israel, welcome to Jerusalem, the city of peace and holiness.

We have just concluded an important and positive meeting, held in the spirit of deep friendship that has for many years defined the relations between Israel and France, and the Jewish and French people. It was an informative and productive conversation.

Your first visit here, as President of the French Republic, represents an important moment in the fascinating story of France-Israel relations. The citizens of Israel are full of gratitude to France for standing by our side in times of difficulty, we will never forget it.

I had the privilege of being a part of those relations as the representative of David Ben Gurion, Israel’s first Prime Minister. It was France that broke the embargo, and allowed us to build a defensive force when we were attacked and isolated. France opened its ports to Holocaust survivors so they could travel to Israel. The State of Israel has fought and survived seven wars, the few against the many, with a strategic shortage of arms for self-defense. France’s support of Israel was, and remains, undoubted. Thank you, Mr. President.

Today, once again, France stands at the forefront, alongside the United States of America and Europe, in its steadfast opposition to Iran’s attempt to acquire nuclear weapons and its development of long range missiles. We appreciate France’s strong stance, under your leadership, my friend Francois Hollande, in the international arena to stop Iran’s dangerous ambitions to overrun and dominate the Middle East. We stand with you.

France proved its determination in the efforts against the spread of terror, against the bloodshed and in defense of innocent civilians across the world.

France fully understands the need to place effective pressure on Iran until it ceases to be a threat. We all prefer a diplomatic solution, but the words of the Iranian leadership must be supported by actions, otherwise it remains empty rhetoric.

My friend, we are negotiating with our neighbors the Palestinians in an effort to achieve a peace agreement between us. France, under your leadership, plays a central role in those efforts. I am positive that we can bridge the differences; there is no alternative to peace. Not for Israel and not for the Palestinians. We cannot, we must not delay peace – the time has come for historic steps to achieve the solution that is agreed upon by us all – two states for two peoples.

France is also contributing to the peace process both by supporting the creation of economic infrastructure in the Palestinian Authority including the industrial park in Bethlehem. At every junction France stretched out its hand to support the efforts for peace and to assist us in ending the conflict between Israel and our neighbors.

Your visit here is an opportunity to thank you for your key role in the decision by the European Union to officially include Hezbollah in the list of terrorist organizations.

We thank you for your visit which comes at such an important time and for standing firmly at our side. Your brave stance against antisemitism and racism only serve to increase the respect for your country and show your bravery as a leader.

Mr. President, France and Israel have developed relations across every field, every aspect of life. And there is great potential for deepening the cooperation in science and economy between us. Your visit to Israel is an opportunity to enrich the already fruitful relation between our countries. Mr. President, your stance and ours will win the day for a simple reason – it is moral, it is just and it serves humanity without prejudice.

On behalf of the State of Israel and the all the people of Israel, we thank you for the historic friendship between Israel and France. Welcome to Israel."