France urged Israel to invade Syria during the war against Hizbullah this past summer.
Army Radio reported Sunday that French President Jacques Chirac contacted Prime Minister Ehud Olmert via a secret channel at the very beginning of the war in Lebanon. He informed him that France would support an Israeli invasion of Syria.
Chirac asked that Israel act to topple the Assad regime, and promised in return to block any moves against Israel within the United Nations or European Union.
“Chirac saw Syria as the primary one responsible for the [arming of Hizbullah],” Israel’s former Ambassador to France Nissim Zvili told Army Radio. “He saw Syria as directly responsible for the attempt to undermine the Lebanese regime and for the murder of [Lebanon’s former prime minister] Rafik al-Hariri.”
France administered Lebanon from 1920 until 1943, and President Chirac was a personal friend of al-Hariri’s.
Chirac warned Syria in March 2006 that destabilizing Lebanon would “trigger a response from the international community.”
The Maariv daily quoted a “senior Israeli official” who claimed that Chirac “misunderstood Israel’s interests,” which, he said, were to “end the war.”
Chirac’s proposal, tacitly supported by the US as well, according to Maariv, was discussed at several Foreign Ministry meetings.
Just last week Chirac threw his full support behind a conciliatory visit to Syria by EU Foreign Minister Javier Solana. “I back it without reservation,” Chirac said. “Europe speaks with one voice.”