French president arrives in Israel as Netanyahu lobbies to change Iran deal
French President Francois Hollande arrived Sunday in Tel Aviv on his first official visit as head of state to Israel, which has welcomed Paris' tough stance in talks with Iran over its nuclear programme, dpa reported.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President Shimon Peres received the large French delegation, which also includes Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius, at Ben-Gurion International Airport.
Hours before Hollande landed, Netanyahu said he would launch a major push next week to change the "bad deal" that world powers were negotiating with Iran.
He said the issue would dominate Hollande's 48-hour visit to Israel. The French leader will also visit the West Bank for talks with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.
"This visit is important ... in light of the talks that are being held in Geneva on the Iranian nuclear issue," Netanyahu told his cabinet in Jerusalem.
"I hope that we will succeed in convincing our friends this week, and the days after, to reach a much better deal," he said.
The Iranian issue would also dominate Netanyahu's talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow on Wednesday and with US Secretary of State John Kerry, who is due in the region on Friday for his second visit in 10 days.
A continuation, or even intensification, of the sanctions on Iran, rather than a let-up, would yield "much better results" in the diplomatic negotiations, the Israeli premier said.
Hollande is scheduled to first meet Peres at the presidential residence in Jerusalem and tour the Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial institute, followed by dinner with Netanyahu.
He is to address Israel's Knesset, or parliament, on Monday, and Tuesday visit the graves of the victims of a March 2012 terrorist attack on a French Jewish school.