PM Netanyahu at press conference with French President Hollande

PM Netanyahu meets French President Hollande

  •   PM Netanyahu at press conference with French President Hollande

    Photo: GPO/Kobi Gideon

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    PM Netanyahu at press conference with French President Hollande PM Netanyahu at press conference with French President Hollande Copyright: GPO/Kobi Gideon
    Monsieur le Président, François, it’s my pleasure to welcome you here, in Jerusalem.

    You are, as has been evident from the tremendously warm reception that you are receiving from every citizen of Israel, a very welcome guest in this country. You are a friend of Israel, France is a friend of Israel, and our two peoples share a very special bond. I spoke this morning and I’ll speak tomorrow about the historic connections between us. They’re very deep. But they’re being translated in this visit in very practical ways.

    We seek to cooperate in the present for the future. In security and trade, in economics, in science and technology, in education, in culture, in every other fields, in international relations. Now just today, this evening, we’re going to sign a joint declaration to encourage technological cooperation between French and Israeli companies, to encourage greater cooperation in energy, this is something we both need and we can make gains to a world that is much more efficient in energy. To cooperate still further in the field of public transportation, to strengthen the cooperation between the Israeli and the French space agencies.

    To encourage medical professionals to complete their training in either country and to foster greater cooperation between our two educational systems. These are all very concrete areas that by cooperating with each other in these fields, this makes both of us stronger, more prosperous, more competitive. So France and Israel share an excellent relationship and I’m sure, I know that already, that your visit will make this relationship even stronger. And it’s therefore a pleasure to welcome you and your ministers and your entire staff to Jerusalem.

    We just came back from Yad Vashem. I’m always moved when I’m there. For many in Israel this is both a national trauma but also a personal trauma. I mentioned to you the writings of a well-known writer Vincent Sheean, who wrote a few years before the Holocaust that the Jewish people suffered, he said, from a “pogrom complex.” This is what he said. He dismissed all the warnings and the threats that culminated in the horror you just witnessed.

    Well, we don’t have a pogrom complex. We understand exactly when somebody says that they’re out to destroy you, we’ve learned in our Jewish history to take them seriously. And I think from humanity’s point of view, there should be another lesson. When somebody starts by attacking the Jews, they generally don’t end there, and the fire soon catches and burns many lands. Now in Yad Vashem, I was moved by the fact that you were so visibly moved, and you said, when you came out, you said that the experience of the Holocaust places a very special responsibility on all of us. François, I want to tell you the burden it places on me, as the Prime Minister of Israel. It is my duty to prevent anyone from credibly threatening or executing another holocaust against the Jewish people. This is my obligation, but I also believe it’s our common obligation for the sake of mankind, for the sake of our common future.

    At the welcoming ceremony at Ben Gurion Airport, you said that it is better to be right and in the minority, than to be wrong with a majority. Well, I couldn’t agree with you more. The deal that is being put on the table in Geneva is not a good deal. I believe it’s a bad deal and a dangerous one. I applaud the fact that you, personally, have taken a stance to make it tougher and firmer, but I‘m concerned, gravely concerned that this deal will go through and in one stroke of the pen it will reduce the sanctions on Iran, sanctions that took years to put in place. And in return for this Iran gives practically nothing.

    Like you, François, I want to see a peaceful solution, a diplomatic solution, and like Secretary Kerry, I strongly believe that no deal is better than a bad deal. And I believe that this deal is not merely a bad deal. Look how eager, just look how eager the Iranians are, how eager they are to return to Geneva and sign the deal. Now they said that they will not demand that the agreement include a specific reference to their so-called right to enrich, they are already backing off of that, predictably. They know, everyone knows, that the agreement enables them to continue enrichment, so they say, we already have the right to enrich in practice. And look who’s getting that right: a regime that brutally oppresses its own people, that directly enables and helps the Assad regime to conduct a brutal massacre of innocent civilians in Syria, a regime that plans and conducts terrorist operations across five continents.

    It’s clear that this agreement is good only for Iran and that it’s really bad for the rest of the world. Iran’s dream deal is the world’s nightmare. So today. I believe the choice is not between a bad deal and war. On the contrary. Every day that passes, Iran is placed under greater economic pressure. With patience, with determination, it’s possible to get a good deal. That means keeping the pressure and ratcheting up the pressure. Getting a deal that dismantles Iran’s military nuclear capacity, that gets them to dismantle their centrifuges and dismantle their plutonium heavy water reactor.

    François, I say these things, because I can’t sit by and ignore a development that could endanger the existence of my country. And as Prime Minister of Israel I have an obligation to protect my country and to protect the future of my people. It is my duty to act in every way to protect the Jewish state from this threat. I know that you share this goal. You said so clearly, words spoken from the heart. They are sincere and real. Your support, your friendship is real. It’s sincere. You’re one out of six, but you said correctly that in critical times it’s important to stand up for what is right. You have done that and I appreciate that.

    I know that we are in hectic times and I trust the friendship, the sincerity, the warmth of our relationship, not merely to sustain the bond between our peoples, of that I have no doubt, no doubt whatsoever. But also to be a bastion of stability and common sense in the turbulent times that afflict us, and an anchor that can help us protect our peoples and our common civilization for better times. And that’s why I welcome you again to Jerusalem. This is where some of the values, many of the values that were later developed by the French revolution and by the civilization of France originated. It’s a thread that runs across our common history and it’s something that I know is very dear to you and the people of France. So, thank you.