President calls for Israeli-Palestinian talks to resume
Israel – Bilateral relations/Palestinian Territories/Syria – Statements by M. Emmanuel Macron, President of the Republic, at his joint press conference with Mr Benjamin Netanyahu, Prime Minister of Israel
Paris, 16 July 2017
I want to begin by apologizing for the delay to this press conference, due to part of the Vel d’Hiv ceremony, which we both attended, overrunning, and also to a long, lively discussion, which was fully justified.
I’m very pleased to welcome Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to the Elysée Palace today, and I wanted to thank you, Prime Minister, for coming here after we both attended and gave speeches at the ceremony to pay tribute together to the victims of the Vel d’Hiv roundup (1).
The visit is consistent with our two countries’ active relationship. Incidentally, we had a telephone conversation the day after my election, on 8 May. We saw each other in Strasbourg on 1 July in the margins of the tribute to Mr Kohl. And I very much appreciate your being here today, as I told you earlier, for what was a very moving ceremony, and I think it was important for many people that you were able to be there and then at this meeting we’ve just had.
First and foremost, I want to extend my condolences to Prime Minister Netanyahu this morning on the deaths of two Israeli police officers on Friday in an attack in Jerusalem, and reiterate here that France condemns this heinous act and stands shoulder to shoulder with the victims’ families and their close friends, and we denounce – as we do consistently every time, very strongly and steadfastly – any kind of violence.
Middle East conflict/two-state solution
In this respect, France recalls – and I want to do so officially and personally – the unfailing, unconditional support for Israel’s security. As such I also call for a resumption of the negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians in the search for a two-state solution, Israel and Palestine living side by side within secure, recognized borders, with Jerusalem as the capital. This is the line constantly taken by French diplomacy, which I’m deeply committed to and, as such, France is ready to support all diplomatic efforts aimed at this in accordance with the parameters for peace recognized by the international community. Prime Minister Netanyahu and I obviously talked about this just now; for this to happen it’s important to ensure that the conditions for negotiation and for peace aren’t actually undermined and that everyone abides by international law, and I’m thinking here of the continued settlement activity; we discussed this point and I reiterated France’s position and my position on the subject.
I genuinely hope that, in the international context we have today, everything can be done to move these negotiations forward, and that of course the nature of the regional risk and of the recomposition under way may enable new negotiations to begin on these issues.
The Prime Minister and I talked at great length about the Middle East situation and all the regional issues. And I must say here – and I share Israel’s concerns about the arming of Hezbollah in southern Lebanon – that we’re seeking and will seek Lebanon’s stability, with due regard for all its communities, and that on this subject I intend to continue the diplomatic action which will limit, reduce and eradicate this risk.
We quite obviously talked about Syria, where the conflict has lasted over six years, killed hundreds of thousands of people and created millions of refugees; I reaffirmed to the Prime Minister the need, in my view, to set in train an inclusive, lasting transition in Syria to guarantee the region’s security, allow the return of refugees and seek a just peace for Syrians.
The fact that our two countries see very much eye to eye on these issues is prompted by a concern to ensure security and stability throughout the region. We’re also united in the fight against terrorist groups, whatever they are, and here I want to say and repeat that I will work tirelessly on this because these groups have been so active over the past few months and years with, obviously, the consequences for the region, for Europe and our country that we’re aware of.
The Prime Minister also expressed his concerns to me about the Iranian regime, and I assured him of our vigilance particularly as regards the strict implementation of all the provisions in the nuclear agreement signed in July 2015, but with the desire to get a rigorous dialogue under way with Israel on monitoring this protocol.
As you’ve understood, going therefore beyond the issue of the peace process, we talked at length about all the region’s issues and our shared determination to act as effectively and swiftly as possible to ensure both stability and an active fight against all forms of terrorism.
Bilateral ties/2018 France-Israel cultural season
Bilaterally, our two countries have maintained ties which are long-standing – from the very outset of the State of Israel’s creation – and extremely substantive in every sphere. I for one would like these relations to be stepped up further, as, I think, would the Prime Minister; we spoke about this. So in the next few months, I’ll be asking the Economy Minister to pay a visit with a delegation of businesses precisely to broaden ties in various spheres; I myself went to the DLD congress in Tel Aviv in the summer of 2015 and saw the vitality of Israel’s ecosystem. So I’d like this visit to take place soon and I’ll be paying a visit myself in the next few months, at the Prime Minister’s invitation, which I very much appreciate; it will allow us to go on discussing both economic and security issues.
I think that when it comes to the economy, digital technology, cyber defence and cyber technology, we have many things to do together, and I’d like to step up our ties even further.
Finally, the Prime Minister and I talked about the cross-cultural season to be held in France and Israel in 2018 with a rich, wide-ranging programme, which we’re looking forward to and which will, again, be a key moment in the relationship and mobilize many artists and intellectuals. I had the opportunity to meet them when I went to Israel in the summer of 2015 and I’d like us also to be able to use this season as a means of intensifying and highlighting this relationship.
That, ladies and gentlemen, was what I wanted to say following the discussions the Prime Minister and I have just had, and before many discussions which we’re getting ready to have as a follow-up to this discussion, and I want to tell him again how delighted and honoured I’ve been to host him in Paris today./.
(1) The Vélodrome d’Hiver in Paris, to which thousands of Jews were taken after being rounded up by French police on 16 July 1942 for deportation.