(Jerusalem, Israel) — The French are suddenly Israel’s new best friend.
With P5+1 negotiations with Iran set to begin again on Wednesday, the Israelis are increasingly concerned the Obama administration is going to sell them out, accepting a disastrous deal with Tehran just for the sake of a deal.
That’s why top leaders here were thrilled that French President Francois Hollande arrived in Israel on Sunday and vowed to block any nuclear deal that did not require Iran to give up its capacities to build nuclear weapons. Israeli leaders rolled out the red carpet for the French leader at Ben Gurion International Airport, and publicly thanked Hollande for standing firm against a bad deal with Iran.
Indeed, a curious new alliance is emerging in the Middle East between Israel, the French, and the Arab states in the Gulf — most notably Saudi Arabia — all of whom are determined to stop Iran from getting The Bomb, and all of whom see President Obama as unable or unwilling to do the job.
Relations between France and Israel have been topsy-turvy over the years. Sometimes the French have been staunch allies, but not always, and not consistently. Anti-Semitism inside France is spiking so severely in recent years that many French Jews are emigrating to Israel.
“France favors an interim agreement with Iran over the Islamic Republic’s nuclear program, French President Francois Hollande said Sunday in Israel, but such an agreement would only be signed if Tehran would abandon its ambition to acquire a nuclear weapon,” reports the Times of Israel. “Speaking at a joint press conference after a meeting with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem, Hollande said that as long as Iran does not prove it has taken serious steps toward curbing its nuclear program, sanctions would not be relieved.”
“Words are not deeds,” the French president stated. “We’re against proliferation, and in Iran there is a will to enrich uranium to weapons-grade level.”
“Hollande went on to lay out four points that his country deemed essential for the signing of an interim agreement,” noted the Times. “France, Hollande said, would demand that all Iranian nuclear facilities be put under international control immediately, that enrichment of uranium to 20 percent be suspended, that existing uranium stockpiles be reduced, and that construction at the Arak heavy water facility be immediately halted.”
“These are essential points that we require for an agreement,” he said. “France requires a serious, stable agreement, verifiable, with all guarantees, and we will stand strong in the face of pressure….”
Last week, “France apparently blocked what its foreign minister, Laurent Fabius, called’“a sucker’s deal,'” noted the Times, although US Secretary of State John Kerry later said it was the Iranians who had chosen not to sign the accord last Saturday. US officials say a deal on the terms presented at Geneva could be signed when the talks resume on Wednesday.”