The French Prime Minister expressed with emotion his attachment to the transmission of the memory of the Holocaust and paid a moving homage to the victims of the Holocaust. Raffarin repeatedly hammered out the same message: the historic links binding France and Israel are important and indestructible.
CRIF welcomed the official visit of Jean Pierre Raffarin to Israel highlighting a real improvement of the relations between the two countries. CRIF's President Roger Cukierman greeted "A new phase of hope" in the Middle East and said the French authorities had "A new assessment of the conflict."
"I think the current evolution of the French position is due to the announce of Israel's withdrawal from Gaza and to the new situation following Arafat's death. France reassessed the situation. French Foreign Minister Michel Barnier went several times to Israel, the French Government did recognize that Ariel Sharon's decision to leave Gaza was courageous, France changed its policy towards Syria. Still, some aspects of the French policy should go on evolving," concluded Roger Cukierman. He was interviewed by the French state-run radio station France-Info.
Other members of the French government visited or will visit Israel. Patrick Devedjian, Minister of Industry, signed a bilateral agreement with his Israeli counterpart Ehud Olmert. The framework agreement will develop the cooperation between the two countries in the areas of biotechnology and nanotechnology. Under the aegis of the two ministers, Israel Aircraft Industries signed a contract with the French company TNI Software to jointly develop inboard electronic systems for spacecrafts, defence, energy and automobile. A joint satellite project will soon be announced.
French Cabinet junior minister for the rights of the victims Nicole Guedj met in Jerusalem with Israel's President Moshe Katzav and with Nathan Charansky. President Katzav praised France's "exemplary action against anti-Semitism." President Katzav called French President Jacques Chirac, "A great friend of the Jewish people."
Mrs Guedj said, "Anti-Semitism and racism are not only French issues." During her visit in the region, she also met with Palestinian Authority's Prime Minister Ahmed Qorei and offered French help for the building of a port in Gaza.
On a related issue, CRIF firmly condemned the misbehavior of soccer fans who booed the French national anthem, La Marseillaise, during the France-Israel football match in Ramat-Gan, Israel, for the qualifiers for the World Cup 2006. Sport stands for mutual respect and friendship.