French President Nicolas Sarkozy spoke to the Israeli Parliament on Monday calling a nuclear-armed Iran unacceptable and saying Israel should stop building settlements in the occupied West Bank. VOA's Jim Teeple has details from our Jerusalem bureau.
Nicolas Sarkozy received a warm welcome from Israeli lawmakers. Unlike his predecessor Jacques Chirac, Mr. Sarkozy is seen as a pro-Israeli leader who supports Israeli positions on Iran, terrorism and other security issues considered vital to the Jewish state.
In his remarks, the French president said a nuclear-armed Iran would be unacceptable to France, saying Israel is not alone in its opposition to Iran's nuclear ambitions.
Referring to Iran, Mr. Sarkozy said there can be no justification for terror against Israel, saying France supports a policy of sanctions, but also openness in case Iran chooses to honor its international obligations.
Iranian officials say their uranium enrichment program is for peaceful purposes only and they have refused to suspend enrichment activities, despite threats of increased sanctions to do so. Israel's military recently conducted large-scale military exercises in the Eastern Mediterranean, exercises that were widely viewed as a warning to Iran, although Israeli officials refuse to say that is the case.
Mr. Sarkozy will meet with moderate Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, and in his address to the Israeli Knesset he called on Israel to stop building settlements in the occupied West Bank and accept Jerusalem as the capital of two states.
Mr. Sarkozy says both sides will have to make an effort for peace saying peace is not possible if Palestinians do not fight terrorism, and not possible if Palestinians do not have freedom of movement.
While the French President has been warmly welcomed by Israeli leaders, media coverage of his visit has largely focused on his wife, ex-model and singer Carla Bruni-Sarkozy. Even Arab-language media outlets that usually focus on the grim toll of daily casualties in the Israeli-Palestinian dispute have devoted much of their coverage of Mr. Sarkozy's visit to his wife's expensive and fashionable wardrobe.