Netanyahu: Sarkozy Wants Palestinian Authority to Recognize Israel as Jewish; France Adds Funds for PA Unity Gov’t

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu in Paris on Thursday said French President Nicholas Sarkozy wants the PA to recognize Israel as a Jewish state, the Associated Press reports.

Sarkozy and Netanyahu
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Sarkozy and Netanyahu

“What I heard from President Sarkozy is that they must recognize Israel as the state of the Jewish people,” Netanyahu said outside the Elysee Palace in Paris.

Netanyahu described his meeting with Sarkozy as “good, far-ranging and friendly.”

“I heard from President Sarkozy…that anyone who wants to make peace with Israel must state in the clearest manner that he is committed to peace with Israel…to peace and not to terror,” he told reporters.

“I heard similar things yesterday in Britain and I think that in Paris and in London there’s an understanding that whoever wants to make peace must commit to peace and not to the complete opposite,” Netanyahu said.

“I think that’s an important development,” he added. “Anybody who wants to destroy Israel is not a partner for peace.”

Netanyahu’s statement runs counter to reports Sarkozy, like some other European leaders, might recognize PA statehood without waiting for a comprehensive bilateral peace accord, and would seek a UN resolution to that effect.

Sarkozy’s office responded to Netanyahu’s comments, saying, “France’s position is known. It supports the solution of two nation states living side-by-side in peace and security, within safe and recognized borders.”

But a senior French presidential source told the Associated Press that Paris was waiting for the makeup and direction of the emerging caretaker PA government to become clear before making any decisions.

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“We shall see in the coming days if we get useful clarifications which will allow progress,” the source said.

Netanyahu’s full court press in Europe is aimed at enlisting the support of Western leaders in opposing a unilateral declaration of PA statehood in the United Nations this September.

It comes as Fatah’s Mahmoud Abbas and Hamas’ Khaled Meshaal signed a unity agreement between their feuding factions on Wednesday, paving the road to a unified Palestinian Authority.

Israel says it is concerned that the PA will be taken over by Hamas who advocates the destruction of Israel, the genocide of its Jews, and the imposition of Sharia law. Hamas has refused to accept the Quartet’s conditions for the creation of a PA state, Fatah gives some of them lip service..

“If [Fatah-Hamas] national unity is unity for peace, then we would be the first to support it,” Netanyahu said.

“But if it’s unity to move away from peace, pursue the battle for Israel’s eradication, then obviously we oppose it and so should everyone else.”

Netanyahu acknowledged the PA’s bid for a resolution declaring PA statehood would most likely be passed if raised at the UN.

“Can there be an automatic majority in the UN? The answer is yes,” Netanyahu said. “They can say the earth is flat and pass it.”

France has agreed to provide an additional 10 million euros in funding to the new Palestinian Authority unity government.

The merger unites the U.S.-backed Ramallah-based secular Fatah faction with the Gaza-based Islamist Hamas terrorist group.

France made the announcement Monday after condemning Israel’s decision earlier this month to freeze the routine transfer of taxes and customs fees collected on behalf of the PA.

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Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz announced May 1 Israel would freeze the transfer of some NIS 300 million ($88 million) to Ramallah until there was a way to ensure the money would not reach the hands of Hamas terrorists.

The PA complained Monday that it has not been able to pay government salaries for the first time since 2007 due to Israel’s decision to freeze the funds. PA Prime Minister Salam Fayyad said the decision had put the PA government in a “very difficult” financial position. He appealed to donor countries to help resolve the crisis with additional financial aid and by pressuring Israel to release the funds.

A certain portion of the monies the Ramallah-based government pays is typically allocated for salaries of workers in Gaza. This creates difficulty for Israel, which is determined to prevent money from reaching the hands of Hamas terrorists who are intent upon murdering Israeli citizens.

In addition, kidnapped IDF soldier Gilad Shalit, who was abducted from an army post near the Kerem Shalom crossing in June 2006 is still being held hostage by Hamas in Gaza.

Shalit’s whereabouts and condition remain unknown. To this day, Hamas has not allowed representatives of the International Committee of the Red Cross to visit him.

Moreover, Hamas remains dedicated to the destruction of the State of Israel, as called for in its founding charter. It has also refused to accept the conditions called for by the Quartet for Middle East affairs (EU, Russia, U.S. and U.N.). Those conditions include renouncing violence, recognizing Israel’s right to exist and agreeing to uphold agreements signed between prior PA governments and the State of Israel.

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