The defeat of Nicolas Sarkozy in the French presidential elections to Socialist Francois Hollande is raising a host of new questions here in Israel. Sarkozy was seen by top politicians as an unwavering ally and personal friend of Israel. They saw him as someone committed to ensuring the country's security, stopping Iran's nuclear program and fighting anti-Semitism in France. Now many want to know where Francoise Holland stands on these key issues. Will France relationship with Israel change under his leadership?
The newly elected President of France is thought by many to have a neutral position onIsrael -- not overly negative or positive. On paper, his positions on Israeli security issues are almost identical to Sarkozy's. The crucial difference is that Hollande's new socialist government -- unlike Sarkozy's -- will include hard line left wing parties that have a long history of expressing anti-Israel and anti-Semitic views... The worry is not about Hollande, but about who will be working with him, advising him and influencing him...
France's Jewish community of 600,000 would also be affected...attacks by government officials on their community or Israel would only feed the growing problem of anti-Semitism and the violent attacks it can provoke. On the issue of Iran's nuclear program, Israeli officials may also have concerns about Hollande. Israel welcomed Sarkozy's tough and aggressive stance on Iran, his push for tighter sanctions and his willingness to flex France's military muscle as he did in Libya. Hollande has promised to be quote "firm" with Iran, but has not elaborated on what that means. And his foreign policy advisors say he opposes Israeli or American military action inIran even if Tehran develops a nuclear bomb.
The West is giving Iran perhaps its last diplomatic chance later this month to resolve the dispute over its nuclear program, but some Hollande may offer Tehran more time... Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu and Defense Minister Barak would not take well to that...the last thing they want is to give Iran more time...they're pushing for sanctions to crippleIran's economy and threatening military action... On the peace process, Israeli officials don't expect Hollande's position to be very different from Sarkozy's. He supports a two-state solution based on the 1967 borders. He also opposes Israeli building in the Jewish settlements and has called for Hamas to abandon its armed resistance. Its expected that Hollande will make his first official visit to Israel this summer -- he did promised to plan a trip soon after he was elected.
TAU Intl Relations Prof. Emmanuel Navon: "One of the people that he's considering to nominate for Prime Minister is Martin Aubri who is known for her very anti-Israel statements. So there is going to be a change in the wayFrance behaves internationally regarding Israel and the Israeli-Arab conflict and yes, there is room for concern... it looks very much like Mr. Hollande is going to try to start those talks again and repeat the same mistakes that President Obama did three years ago. So there is concern on the issue ofIran that Hollande may undo the coalition that has been built by America and France over the last year..."
Jordana Miller, JN1, Jerusalem