Sarkozy arrives to address Israel's Knesset
French President Nicholas Sarkozy arrived at the Knesset Monday prior to addressing the legislature, as he continued a three-day visit to Israel.
Sarkozy, accompanied by his wife Carla and escorted by Knesset Speaker Dalia Itzik, was given a red-carpet welcome and greeted by a guard of honour, reported dpa.
The president stood at attention, and his wife stood with her head bowed, as the French Tricolour was raised to fly alongside the Israeli flag and a band played the French national anthem.
Sarkozy arrived in Israel Sunday night and lost no time in declaring that "I have always been and will be a friend of Israel," and in stressing that the creation of a Palestinian state alongside Israel was the best way to guarantee the security of the Jewish state.
In a meeting with Israeli President Shimon Peres, he condemned Israeli settlement building in the West Bank.
Both Peres, and Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, who met with Sarkozy Sunday night, lauded France's contributions to Israel, and Olmert praised the French leader's "spirit of friendship."
Sarkozy is scheduled to meet with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in Bethlehem on Tuesday.
He also plans to meet the parents of Gilad Shalit, the Israeli soldier captured by Gazan militants two years ago in a cross-border raid and still held captive. Shalit has French citizenship.