The President reaffirmed his friendship and support for the state of Israel from the very beginning of our conversation. He wanted to remind us that throughout his political career, he has had a profound attachment to Israel. He also spoke of his strong, long relationship and friendship with Netanyahu and his family, and expressed his firm desire to move beyond the misunderstanding following an off-record conversation. We told him about our questions and preoccupations, notably concerning France’s UNESCO vote, and we talked about the Palestinian bid for UN membership. French Jews are especially worried about the status of Jewish cultural sites on Palestinian territory, which they hope will remain accessible, and not be transformed into mosques. He said in a firm manner that there was no question France would accept that kind of thing. They would do everything to block any downplaying of the Jewish presence and characteristic at cultural sites.
Kalifat said Sarkozy gave the group “certain explanations” for the recent conversation with Obama, in which both leaders didn’t realize they were speaking into microphones that were turned on, allowing several journalists to hear three minutes of the conversation in an adjoining room. But Sarkozy asked that the group do not repeat that explanation. Sarkozy has said his words were taken out of context. Concerning a Palestinian bid for UN membership, Sarkozy said France would only support the idea of a “non-member observer state” status for the territories, but under strict conditions that included Palestinian recognition of Israel as a Jewish state, a return to bilateral negotiations without preconditions, recognition of Israel’s security requirements, and a promise not to submit lawsuits against Israel in international courts.