November 18, 2013 – New York – AJC praised French President François Hollande’s trip to Israel this week as a timely demonstration of the solidity of ties between France and Israel. "I will always remain a friend of Israel," Hollande declared in Hebrew on his arrival at Ben-Gurion Airport.
“President Hollande’s visit comes at a critical time for global security, and a reminder that an Iran with nuclear weapons capability would threaten not only Israel, but the world,” said AJC Executive Director David Harris. “France gets it, and we again salute President Hollande for standing firm.”
Hollande was explicit at a news conference in Israel about France’s determination to maintain all sanctions against Iran until it meets four conditions: Iran must place all nuclear installations under international supervision; suspend uranium enrichment to 20 percent; reduce its existing stock of 20 percent enriched uranium; and halt construction of the Arak heavy-water nuclear reactor.
The visit comes just days before the P5+1 nations convene again with Iran in Geneva to continue talks. “We hope the views of France will prevail,” said Harris. “Weakening any sanctions, without Iran first taking verifiable, concrete steps on its nuclear program that meet longstanding UN Security Council and IAEA demands, would be a tragic mistake.”
During the three-day visit, his first as French President, Hollande addressed the Knesset, where he again delivered strong words regarding Iran. “We will not allow Iran to have nuclear weapons because that poses a threat not only to Israel and regional countries, but also to the world," he declared.
He also spoke about France’s support for Israel since the country declared independence in 1948. "France has always supported Israel's right to exist,” said Hollande. “Sixty-five years later, I come to say in Israel, in the name of France: The friendship between us is firm, more than the passing leaders who come and go, and even more than the ups and downs of international life."
On anti-Semitism in France, Hollande stated: “I reaffirm, from this stand, the French republic’s commitment to guarantee in all circumstances the safety and integrity of the Jews of France.”
AJC Paris Director Simone Rodan was invited to be part of the official French presidential delegation visiting Israel.