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Rivlin warns Macron about Iranian influence in Lebanon

Israeli President Reuven Rivlin told French President Emmanuel Macron yesterday that Iran is helping Hezbollah build precision missiles that threaten Israel.

During their bilateral meeting at the Elysée Palace, Rivlin said: “Hezbollah is creating facilities to produce precision-guided missiles in the heart of Beirut under civilian cover and with Iranian support, this threatens Israeli security and could force us to respond, dragging the region into escalation that could badly harm Lebanon.”

The Israeli President added: “If we are threatened from Lebanon, we will not stand by. Lebanon bears sovereign responsibility for all Hezbollah actions. France is a power with decisive influence in our region and it is vital that she understands that Hezbollah is part of the Lebanese system. The Lebanese president cannot wash his hands of it if Iranian missiles are fired from his country onto Israel.” Rivlin also emphasised that Israel has no desire for conflict with Lebanon and hoped for good relations between the two countries.

President Macron said he shared Israel’s concerns about the discovery of Hezbollah tunnels which were dug across the border into Israel. He also said relations between France and Israel have strengthened over the last 70 years, and that: “When we disagree, we do so as friends and agree from time to time not to agree … for example, regarding the Iranian nuclear agreement.”

Macron reiterated France’s position that dialogue with Iran is the best way to control its nuclear and ballistic missile activity. President Macron is scheduled to visit Lebanon in early February.

President Rivlin, Israeli Air Force Commander Maj.-Gen. Amikam Norkin and French Air Force commander General Philippe Lavigne visited a French Air Force base yesterday. Rivlin said: “The French Air Force knows that maintaining stability in the Middle East and in Africa, fighting terrorist organisations and terrorist regimes are key to stability and continued prosperity, for France and for all of Europe.”

Lavigne said: “I believe that cooperation between countries and between air forces is the key to achieving peace. We make every effort to make the best use possible of the resources at our disposal to improve our abilities. The cooperation between us plays a significant role in our force build-up.”