(Communicated by the Office of the president)
President Shimon Peres met today (Sunday 18 November 2012) with French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius, who has arrived for a series of talks with Israel and the Palestinian Authority because of the escalation in the south. After the meeting at the President’s residence he will go directly to Ramallah to meet with Abu Mazen.
President Peres welcomed FM Fabius upon his arrival in Israel and said: “The State of Israel has been left with no option other than to defend itself. It cannot be argued that Gaza is occupied. Israel left Gaza willingly, yet they target our children as they are leaving for school. The question, therefore, is why are they firing? We must understand that we are talking of millions of innocent people in southern Israel who cannot close their eyes for fear of the rockets.”
The president emphasized that Israel seeks peace and is not interested in war, but clarified: “Israel’s goal is to put an end to the firing on the south and to enable mothers a quiet, continuous night’s sleep that has not been possible for some time. Our goal is to return to a normal routine.”
FM Fabius thanked President Peres and stated: “I know the situation is difficult for the Israeli population, but there are fatalities in Gaza as well. I have come to Israel under the directive of President Hollande who has recognized that there is a state of emergency in the region. We must prevent war in the long run, and arrange a cease-fire as soon as possible in the short run. France is a peace-seeking nation; we maintain relations with everyone and will do all in our power to assist in returning quiet to the region.”