French President Emmanuel Macron recently hosted Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the Élysée Palace in Paris, amid deteriorating diplomatic relations between Iran and the European Union.
Macron, who has been a vocal critic of the Iranian regime, reportedly blasted Tehran for its “headlong rush” into its controversial nuclear research program that is widely seen as being aimed at developing nuclear weapons.
The French leader also condemned the recent Palestinian Arab terrorist attacks against Jewish Israeli civilians in Jerusalem.
Following the meeting, Macron urged the nations of Europe to exhibit “firmness in the face of Iran’s headlong rush, which if continued would inevitably have consequences.”
Macron’s tough position on Iran likely pleased his Israeli guest. In the past decade, Netanyahu emerged as the world’s perhaps most vocal critic of the Iranian regime. The Israeli leader has warned for years that Iran’s nuclear ambitions are a global threat that needs to be addressed.
Netanyahu described his meeting with Macron as positive and stressed a “very big rapprochement” between Jerusalem and Paris “in the way we see the Iranian threat.”
“The conversation was very good. We talked about concrete things. He [Macron] expressed willingness to consider the imposition of sanctions on the Iranian [Islamic] Revolutionary Guards,” Netanyahu told the media following the meeting.
The Israeli premier stressed that European and Israeli positions on Iran were gradually converging.
“I must say that the concern is shared, the assessment of the nature of the regime is shared. It’s a rapprochement,” Netanyahu said, noting this as an important development and a big change from the years when Israel was “almost alone” in warning about the dangers of Iranian nuclear weapons.
In January, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen articulated support for listing Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) as a terrorist-sponsoring organization.
“We are looking indeed at a new round of sanctions and I would support also listing the Revolutionary Guards. I have heard several ministers asking for that and I think they are right,” von der Leyen said.
The European Commission president also blasted the Iranian government for “trampling” fundamental human rights in the country. The Iranian regime has killed at least 500 civilians, including women and children, in the ongoing protests against the Islamic Republic government’s religious and political oppression of women and minoritiesת in particular.
However, Josep Borrell, the EU’s high representative for foreign affairs, told reporters in January that the EU could only label the IRGC as a terrorist organization after a European Union court defined it as such.
“It is something that cannot be decided without a court, a court decision first. You cannot say I consider you a terrorist because I don’t like you,” Borrell said.
In the Élysée Palace meeting, Macron welcomed the historic Arab-Israeli Abraham Accords, normalization agreements brokered by the Trump administration between Israel and Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates and Morocco in 2020, and, later, between Israel and Sudan.
However, Macron stressed that Israel’s expanding ties with the Arab world would be incomplete without peace between Jerusalem and the Palestinian Authority.
“The process will remain incomplete unless it is accompanied by the resumption of a political process towards a solution addressing the legitimate aspirations of both Palestinians and Israelis,” Macron stated.
While supporting Israel on Iran, the French president has been a vocal critic of Jewish communities in the West Bank, known as Judea and Samaria. Macron reportedly warned Netanyahu that Jewish settlements undermine the prospects of the “two-state solution.” Macron urged Netanyahu to refrain from implementing wide-ranging judicial reforms that could create serious daylight between Israel and other democracies.
The All Israel News Staff is a team of journalists in Israel.