Former French president Nicolas Sarkozy shocked donors at a United Israel Appeal fundraiser in Davos Friday when he said that the international community should apply pressure on Jerusalem in order to establish a Palestinian state.
“Israel has surrounded herself with walls of Jericho,” Sarkozy, who was France’s president from 2007 to 2012, told the closed gathering of wealthy Israel supporters at the charity dinner held at the Hotel President Wilson on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum. “It will be necessary to bring down the walls in order to save her,” Maariv reported Sunday.
Sarkozy, who during his term in office made the Middle East peace process a major aspect of his foreign policy, went on to say that the international community should pressure Israel in order to establish a Palestinian state and prevent what he termed “a disaster.”
The speech was reportedly poorly received by those present, who felt Sarkozy was venting his disappointment with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Many of the participants complained to the organizers and even threatened to withdraw their donations and convince others to do the same.
Sarkozy, who was reportedly paid 150,000 euro ($202,000) to attend the event, left the room immediately after delivering his address. Former Israeli ambassador to the UN Dan Gillerman later addressed the attendees, explaining the government’s policies.
The former president, whose maternal grandfather was a Greek Jew who converted to Catholicism, visited Israel while in office as well as hosting Israeli dignitaries in Paris. Over the years Sarkozy met with Netanyahu, President Shimon Peres, former prime minister Ehud Olmert and released Israel Defense Forces soldier Gilad Shalit.