Prime Minister Netanyahu has urged French President Emmanuel Macron to use his influence to counter the Hezbollah threat in Lebanon.
Following a meeting at the Élysée Palace yesterday, Netanyahu said that he “sent forceful messages about Hezbollah’s continued consolidation in the country with sophisticated arms,” warning that “the seeds are being sown here for a very serious conflict between Israel and Lebanon”.
The Prime Minister said: “Macron has the ability to talk directly with the Hariri government about Hezbollah,” and urged the President to use France’s “special relationship” with Beirut to address Hezbollah activity in Lebanon, as well as convey a message from Israel to the Lebanese Prime Minister about plans by several senior Hamas officials to move their operations to Lebanon.
France is one of the main countries that make up the United Nations Interim Force in southern Lebanon, and played a central role in formulating Resolution 1701 in August 2006 – the UN Security Council Resolution Israel says Hezbollah has repeatedly violated.
Macron said after his meeting with Netanyahu that France “share[s] Israel’s concerns about Hezbollah’s activity in south Lebanon” and expressed an aim to “promote a diplomatic move to reduce the severity of this threat”.
Macron also called for a resumption of negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians; Netanyahu said that the root of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is the Palestinian refusal to recognize Israel as a Jewish state, on any border. Netanyahu discussed with Macron the regional opportunity created by the convergence of interests and warming of relations between Israel and some Arab countries.
Macron said that the two leaders also discussed the joint struggle against terror and the nuclear agreement with Iran. The French president stressed that France will remain vigilant in monitoring the full implementation of Iran’s nuclear deal, adding that Israel and France will hold talks to discuss policy coordination on the day after the nuclear agreement.
Earlier in the day, Netanyahu and Macron attended a ceremony commemorating the 75th anniversary of the deportation of the Jews of Paris to Auschwitz. Speaking at the ceremony, Macron declared: “We will never surrender to the messages of hate, we will not surrender to anti-Zionism because it is a reinvention of anti-Semitism.”
Today Netanyahu will travel to Budapest and he will meet with the leaders of Hungary, Poland, Slovakia, and the Czech Republic.