Sarkozy slams Israel PM's 'foot-dragging' on peace: report

28th April 2010, Comments 0 comments

French President Nicolas Sarkozy has slammed Israel's prime minister for "foot-dragging" amid international efforts to relaunch the Middle East peace process, an Israeli newspaper said Wednesday.

Citing unnamed officials, the centre-left Haaretz said Sarkozy had voiced disappointment with the hawkish Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu during a "very difficult" meeting with Israeli President Shimon Peres.

"I'm disappointed with him," Sarkozy reportedly said. "With the friendship, sympathy and commitment we have toward Israel, we still can't accept this foot-dragging. I don't understand where Netanyahu is going or what he wants."

The comments were made during a meeting with Peres in Paris two weeks ago in which Sarkozy criticised Netanyahu for the first 15 minutes, the paper said.

Peres reportedly said that "trust between Israel and the Palestinians has been undermined," but that Israel had accepted a two-state solution in principle and taken steps to boost the Palestinian economy in the West Bank.

The United States has for months led international efforts to press both sides to relaunch peace negotiations last suspended after the outbreak of the Gaza war in December 2008.

Netanyahu has called for direct talks with the Palestinians but they have refused to meet with him face-to-face unless he halts all settlement construction in the occupied West Bank including annexed east Jerusalem.

The dispute over settlements boiled over into a rare public spat between Israel and its closest ally the United States last month, and Israel has faced a chorus of criticism over the settlements from Western leaders.

© 2010 AFP

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