Macron calls for new peace negotiations, two state solution
Chaim Tzach, Government Press Office
France's President Emmanuel Macron has called for renewed peace talks between Israelis and Palestinians, indicating he will stick to long-standing French policy supporting a two state solution, after his first formal meeting with Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Paris on Sunday.
"Everything must be done to advance negotiations, especially considering the regional threats, and we must open new negotiations for this issue," said Macron at a joint press conference at the Élysée Palace, the French presidential compound in Paris.
"I would like to support the pursuit of a solution for the Palestinians and the Israelis with the capital in Jerusalem for these two entities," said Macron, who was elected in May. "France is going to give all the help, political and any other that is needed, according to the international community’s principles."
"It is important that the negotiations for peace are not doubted or put into question," added the center-right President.
Stressing that international law should be "respected by all", Macron said he was referring to Israel's "continued building of settlements" in occupied Palestinian territory, a policy opposed by France.
Macron also said that Netanyahu had raised the issue of Iran in their meeting, and the French leader "assured him of our vigilance, in particular over the strict implementation of the accord... in all its provisions."
France was one the parties that thrashed out an agreement governing Iran's nuclear facilities in July 2015.
Macron also said that he had discussed Lebanon with his Israeli counterpart, saying that he shares "Israel’s anxiety, or concerns, about the stability of Lebanon and we have to ensure the stability of Lebanon, and I think that the pursuit of this issue is important."
Hezbollah, a Lebanese Shi'ite political and military force backed by Iran, fought a war with Israel in 2006 and Israeli intelligence believes that the group possesses formidable missile stockpiles with the ability to strike major population centers.
Netanyahu looks to economy
Standing next to Macron, Netanyahu largely skirted around the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and instead focused on efforts to improve economic ties with France and mutual co-operation in Africa.
He did say, however, that he told Macron in their meeting that "the root of the conflict is the persistent Palestinian refusal to accept a Jewish state, a Jewish state with any boundaries."
He also lauded the French President for his statements earlier in the day at a memorial ceremony for the 13,152 Jews who French police rounded up and deported to Nazi extermination camps at the request of Nazi Germany in 1942.
“Today President Macron and I took part in an extremely moving ceremony to remember the victims of ant-Semitism and racism," said Netanyahu, "I welcome your effort to tackle anti-Semitism and racism.”
“You cannot say ‘well I’m not against Jews I’m just against the Jews having a state and I think it should be destroyed.’ I think exposing this and lancing this boil is a very important service that you, President Macron are giving to this battle against prejudice," the Israeli premier added.
Before inviting Macron to embark on an official state visit to Israel, Netanyahu also addressed the issue of Israel's role in assisting developing countries in Africa, an emerging theme of Israeli foreign policy.
He said that France and Israel were already working together in one third country, and that "we think the possibility of assisting the French effort to help African countries help themselves is vast because of France’s enduring ties with Africa."
"France and Israel are both innovative nations, anything we can do together, we can do separately."
"I watched with admiration your efforts to introduce reforms to the French economy," Netanyahu added. "I think that there is a feeling in the world and certainly in Israel that France has very, very great potential under your leadership."
(Staff with agencies)
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