Yes, according to the Jerusalem Post, which tracks a shift in French thinking about the Middle East:
The negative attitude regarding Israel typical of the French government of late is shifting towards a new policy, according to the delegation of French senators sent to visit Israel and the West Bank by the Medbridge Institute.
Now, France is eager to offer Israel support in ensuring its national security by confronting terrorist groups and regimes in the Middle East. "The feeling in France today is that terror must be handled directly, and we are ready to combat terrorism," Jean Pierre Plancade, vice president of the Foreign Affairs and Defense committees, told The Jerusalem Post over the weekend.
Based on France's history of accommodating Arab governments, one would expect its position on the new Palestinian "unity" government agreed to in Mecca by Hamas and Fatah to be closer to that of Russia, i.e. that the Road Map's preconditions can be thrown over the side and the unity government could receive funding from the UN and EU in spite of its continued refusal to recognize Israel's right to exist, renounce terrorism or abide by past peace agreements with Israel. In fact, my own expectation was that France would eagerly cooperate in such a charade. Perhaps it will, but the initial reaction gives me more reason to hope than I would have otherwise had."
According to a French Foreign Ministry official, the French government's position on the conditions of the road map are non-negotiable. "Obviously we cannot judge what will happen in the future, but don't expect either Royal or Sarkozy to differ from the current government's position," the ministry official said.
Earlier in the week, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert urged the French delegation to fulfill their "moral obligation" regarding Iran, insisting that "Europe must remain forceful regarding the nuclear capabilities of Iran." That position was echoed by Plancade, who acknowledged the threat of a nuclear Iran and opposed their efforts saying that a France under Royal "would totally oppose a nuclear Iran in any capacity. We have carefully analyzed the situation, and are against Iran having a nuclear program of any kind."
He added that they are "in favor of a more severe handling of Iran if they do not cease their efforts. It is not only Israel who will be in danger, but the Sunnis and the rest of the world would be under the Iranian threat." While the Chirac government is opposed to an Iranian nuclear arsenal and has expressed concern over the lack of cooperation by the Iranians with the international community regarding the program, they do not oppose peaceful nuclear technology in Iran.
Other delegates, such as Senate Secretary Yvon Collin, have admitted to broadening their views concerning Israeli-Palestinian relations. "We arrived with preconceived ideas but every day those preconceptions... make room for new realities," declared Collin.
France has a long history in the Middle East, and prides itself on knowing the nuances of the political situation in countries like Lebanon, Syria and Iran. French citizens have long championed the Palestinian cause, viewing Israel through the prism of its own colonial past in the Middle East, and not as an embattled democracy at war with both government and non-government forces who are determined to end its existence.
Now, perhaps realizing that French president Jacques Chirac's recent bizarre offhand comments indicating a comfort level with an Iran that has the Bomb, combined with its own realization that it may be facing its own "intifada" in the streets of its cities, it is possible -- maybe -- that elites in the French government are coming to the realization that the Arab-Israeli conflict may not be just about land, nor even about Arabs and Israelis -- but about a complete unwillingness on the part of the Muslim world to tolerate the existence of Israel under any circumstances, regardless of its policies.
If France is waking up because it perceives a threat to the democratic West, what about the rest of the EU? It seems odd to hear French criticism of the EU, but what to make of this?
Medbridge Chairman and member of the European Parliament Francois Zimeray, who founded the institution to fill the information gap between Middle East and the EU, said from Paris: "This is why Europe has no real impact in the Middle East. They cannot mediate a peace in the Middle East because they do not understand the Middle East.
"I was fed up hearing European diplomats talking about realities that they do not understand, so that is why I have sent 350 parliamentarians from 27 different European countries to Israel and the Palestinian territories." According to Zimeray, one such diplomat is French President Jacques Chirac, who he believes exposed his ignorance of Israel and the Middle East last week with his comment that Teheran would be razed if Iran fired a missile at Israel.
"Israel's real friends are those who understand the fragility of the state of Israel" Zimeray noted. "Saying that Israel would destroy Teheran shows that Chirac doesn't understand Israel's fragility. Israel is not going to take on confrontations all over the world, they need friends and supporters."