President Shimon Peres on Wednesday, March 21, met with French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe
, who arrived in Israel in order to attend the funerals of those who were murdered in the recent terrorist attack in Toulouse
. At the start of the meeting, President Peres told his guest, in French, “I thank you for sharing in our peoples’ sorrow at this difficult time. This is a special expression of the deep ties between France and Israel. Your arrival and the actions of President Sarkozy in light of these harsh events prove that Israel and France are on the same front both in seeking peace and in the total war against terrorism. The people in Israel and in the Diaspora communities were moved by the expressions of grief and consolation that have been voiced in France and by the government’s actions. Children are more precious than anything and everything must be done to ensure their peace, in the future as well.”
President Peres praised President Sarkozy’s clear and harsh line against Iran’s arming itself with nuclear weapons, stressed that the Iranian danger is a tangible threat to the entire world and commended the recent steps, especially the tightening of the embargo on the export of Iranian oil and the stopping of financial activity by the Iranian banking system.
French Foreign Minister Juppe told President Peres, “Mr. President, I would like to thank you for welcoming me. I am very moved by the fact that you spoke to me in French. I came to Israel today in order to represent the French Government and President of the Republic Sarkozy and to express our solidarity with the families of the victims, Sandler and Monsonego. This was an abhorrent and unacceptable murder that can hardly be described. I came to express the solidarity of the French people with the people of Israel, which felt that its children were murdered. The blood of our two peoples was spilled in this murder.”
French Foreign Minister Juppe updated President Peres on what is now occurring in Toulouse and said, “After this awful tragedy, President Sarkozy and Prime Minister took all necessary steps to mobilize all the police and judicial forces in order to arrest this barbaric murderer. I would like to brief you on what is now taking place, what you are watching live. It seems that the suspect is surrounded by the French security forces and I believe that he will be arrested within hours, if not minutes.” He added that according his assessment and that of the French security services, “The French Muslim soldiers were murdered, apparently by the same suspect in the same horrific fashion.”
French Foreign Minister Juppe emphasized, “France and Israel have excellent, strong and deep relations. We do not always agree on everything but in the end we share the same humanitarian values, especially the respect of human dignity. Israel and France are together in the struggle against terrorism, which is afflicting the entire world, including – to our sorrow – France as well. You know that Israeli interests and Israeli security are very dear to us and we will always stand beside you in order to defend you.” He stressed, “There is very great and deep emotion in France, not just in the Jewish community and not just in the community in Bordeaux, where I also serve as Mayor and where the late Rabbi Jonathan Sandler was born. The entire nation, believers of all faiths, are standing together in in clear solidarity on this awful day.”
French Foreign Minister Juppe told President Peres, “The murder of children is especially abhorrent. This murder was especially horrific since the murderer deliberately aimed his gun, at zero range, at the children’s heads, in front of their father, before murdering him as well. Fanaticism leads to monstrous, inconceivable acts.”
On the Iranian issue, French Foreign Minister Juppe said that France and President Sarkozy strongly oppose Iran’s possessing nuclear weapons. He said that this was unacceptable and noted that France has been at the forefront of the effort to impose severe economic sanctions, which are now being witnessed – both the transition to a full oil embargo that will take effect in July and the stop of all Iranian banking transactions. The French Foreign Minister added that by July 1, there would be a full oil embargo on Iran and said that he believes that sharp sanctions would be effective.