On his first trip abroad as Israeli prime minister, Yair Lapid set the focus of his meeting with the French president on the Iranian threat to the region as Europe and the United States seek to revive a nuclear deal with Tehran.
Lapid urged France and other world powers to respond to the Islamic regime’s flagrant violations of the previous deal in its race to attain nuclear power.
“We may have disagreements about the content of the agreement, but we do not disagree on the facts: Iran continues to violate the agreement and develop its program, enriching uranium beyond the level it is allowed to and removing cameras from nuclear sites,” Lapid said. “Given all this, the world must respond.”
The Israeli leader warned that failure by the international community to address the Iranian nuclear program in the face of the regime’s terror threats undermines world peace.
Driving home the threat posed by Tehran, Lapid addressed the Iranian-backed Hezbollah terrorist organization's recent launch of drones toward an Israeli gas rig close to the Lebanese-Israeli maritime border.
“A few days ago, Iranian-made UAVs tried to attack an Israeli gas rig near the Lebanese coast,” Lapid said. “These UAVs were sent by Hezbollah, a terrorist organization that threatens Lebanon’s stability, violates its sovereignty, pushes it towards a dangerous escalation with Israel, and harms the national interests of Lebanon – a country I know is dear to your heart.”
The prime minister stressed that the Jewish state would not sit by while Hezbollah threatens Israel’s security.
“Hezbollah has more than 100,000 rockets in Lebanon aimed at Israel. If it tries to attack us with Iranian rockets and UAVs, Israel will not sit back and do nothing given these repeated attacks,” Lapid said.
French President Emmanuel Macron, who is in favor of reviving the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, admitted it “will not be enough – but I do believe we need to keep Iran below the nuclear threshold.”
Instead, Macron focused on the importance of jumpstarting the dormant peace process between Jerusalem and Ramallah. He called for “a return to political dialogue between Palestinians and Israelis.”
“I know how much you can mark history if you relaunch this process, which has been broken for too long,” said Macron. “You have the agenda; you have the commitment to peace.”
Despite disagreements on how to handle Iran and the peace process, bilateral French-Israeli ties are improving and have moved beyond political tensions between Paris and Jerusalem.
“You chose France as your first visit abroad, something I found very moving, dear Yair,” Macron had said in greeting to the Israeli premier. “The people of Israel are lucky to have you as their new prime minister.”
Lapid, who took over Israel's top spot on Friday, will remain prime minister of the transitional government until after the Israeli election on Nov. 1.
Prior to the meeting, Lapid was greeted at Charles De Gaulle Airport outside Paris by a military honor guard; the French Foreign Ministry head of protocol; Israel’s ambassador to France, Yael German; and Paris’ envoy to Israel Eric Danon.
The prime minister thanked Macron for the warm reception while stressing the close diplomatic ties between France and the Jewish state.
“Thank you Mr. President, Emmanuel. It is a true pleasure for me that my first official visit as prime minister of Israel is to a country that is a close friend—and with a president who is a close friend. I thank you for the warm welcome, for your support and friendship over the years,” he said. “And I thank you for your firm stance against anti-Semitism in France and around the world. France has taught the world that liberté and égalité cannot exist without fraternité. Our friendship is based on values and on the understanding that values are worth fighting for.”
The All Israel News Staff is a team of journalists in Israel.