French President Nicolas Sarkozy arrived in Israel on Monday for a three-day visit that he kicked off with a historic address before Israel's Knesset. The last time a French president addressed the Knesset was in 1982.
Sarkozy started his speech by expounding on his heartfelt love for Israel, and insisting that he and his government would always remain stalwart friends of the Jewish state.
Punctuating that sentiment, Sarkozy then addressed the most serious regional threat facing Israel - Iran's quest to acquire nuclear weapons.
"A nuclear Iran is intolerable," said Sarkozy. "Israel must know it is not alone in the battle against Iran's nuclear ambitions."
Responding to Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's previous veiled threats to wipe Israel off the map, the French leader warned that "anyone trying to destroy Israel will find France blocking the way."
Sarkozy then took a turn that made many in the Knesset uncomfortable as he suggested Israel meet the demands of the Palestinians for the sake of peace in the region.
Sarkozy said that Jerusalem must be divided between Israel and the Palestinian Authority, and that Israel should work to remove all Jews from Judea and Samaria, the so-called "West Bank." He also appeared to side with the Arab demand for a Palestinian "right of return" that would see the Jewish state flooded with millions of foreign-born Arabs who the world labels as "Palestinian refugees."
A spokesman for Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas thanked Sarkozy in remarks to AFP for supporting the Arab side in its dispute with Israel.
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