Sarkozy chides Israel on settlers

French leader urges concessions while offering support on Iranian issue.

    Sarkozy received a standing ovation after
    his speech in the Knesset [AFP]

    "But I say this clearly and firmly, Iran holding a nuclear weapon is unacceptable for my country."

    'Lift checkpoints'

    Sarkozy said that peace with the Palestinians was possible if Israel stopped all settlement activity, lifted the checkpoints that cut up the West Bank, ended a blockade of Gaza and accepted Jerusalem as capital of two states.

    "Create the conditions for movement," he told Israeli legislators.

    He urged them to back proposals for Israeli settlers to leave the West Bank and receive compensation and re-housing in Israel in return.

    "There can be no peace without a halt to settlement activity," he said.

    Sarkozy said he was he was prepared to host peace talks and mobilise French troops – without specifying their role – to attain peace.

    Reactions

    Ehud Olmert, the Israeli prime minister, in a welcome address, praised Sarkozy but said: "Not always do we see eye to eye on every detail."

    Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian president, welcomed Sarkozy's comments on the settlement issue, according to Saeb Erekat, a senior aide.

    "It's a speech that the Israeli leaders need to listen to," Erekat said.

    Israel has vowed to continue construction in settlements it intends to keep in the West Bank. Palestinians fear that this will deny them a viable state in the territory.

    In a change from his predecessors, Sarkozy has repeatedly described himself as a "friend of Israel" and fostered closer ties with the country in his first year as president.

    SOURCE: Agencies


    YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE

    Interactive: Take a tour through divided Jerusalem

    Interactive: Take a tour through divided Jerusalem

    Take a tour through East and West Jerusalem to see the difference in quality of life for Israelis and Palestinians.

    Stories from the sex trade

    Stories from the sex trade

    Dutch sex workers, pimps and johns share their stories.

    Inside the world of India's booming fertility industry

    Inside the world of India's booming fertility industry

    As the stigma associated with being childless persists, some elderly women in India risk it all to become mothers.