President welcomes Israel’s new Prime Minister to Paris

Israel – Statements by M. Emmanuel Macron, President of the Republic, in his joint statement to the press with Mr Yair Lapid, Prime Minister of Israel

Paris, 5 July 2022

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I’m very pleased and honoured to be welcoming the Prime Minister of the State of Israel, my friend Yair Lapid, to Paris. I’m all the more so, cher Yair, because, as you said on arriving, we’ve been waiting a few years. I’m very pleased that you’ve chosen France for your first official visit abroad in this new post. We’re very touched by it, I’m very touched by it. Cher Yair, this visit illustrates, if it were needed, the unique and exceptional relationship between our two countries and the scale of the human ties uniting us.

Your visit comes at a crucial time in more than one respect. First of all, war has returned to the European continent. A war deliberately chosen by Russia and whose consequences impact everyone’s security. Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity must be respected, as must its democratic choices. That’s what Ukraine is defending in the face of Russia, and that’s why, together, we must stand by it.

Your visit also comes at a crucial time for the Middle East, with some crises that are continuing and others that are simmering. You know you can count on France’s unfailing commitment to Israel’s security and our determination to remain committed to guaranteeing the whole region’s stability and security. You also know you can count on my determination to continue the fight against our common enemy, terrorism, which has hit Israel hard again in recent months.

Among the many crises that affect Israel’s environment and also challenge French and European security interests, I want to mention Iran’s nuclear programme and its regional activities. I’d like once again to reiterate our desire to complete, as soon as possible, negotiations on a return to compliance with the JCPOA. We agree with Israel that this agreement won’t be enough to contain Iran’s destabilizing activities, but I remain more convinced than ever that an Iran on the nuclear threshold could conduct those activities more dangerously. So we must defend the agreement, take into account the security interests of our friends in the region, first and foremost Israel, and build on it through even stronger negotiations on ballistic and regional activities.

I can only note with regret that Iran is still refusing to grasp the opportunity it’s been offered to reach a good agreement, as shown by the latest talks with the Americans in Doha, but on this issue as with others we’re going to continue every effort to make Iran see reason, in close coordination with our partners.

Fortunately there are also positive trends. They include the normalization of relations between Israel and several Arab States, which provides a significant contribution to regional stability and security. I lend my full support to this process. Israel is a close partner of France. So are those Arab countries. What better than a partnership between them, from our point of view? It’s necessary to continue, deepen and broaden this trend. We’ll talk about it together, and I hope France can support it as much as possible.

This trend must also be accompanied by tangible progress towards a solution to the Palestinian issue that meets not only Israel’s security interests but also the Palestinian people’s legitimate aspirations.

Prime Minister, cher Yair Lapid, your visit comes at a crucial time in that respect too. There’s no alternative to a resumption of political dialogue between the Israelis and Palestinians. I know what a mark you can make on history by revitalizing a process that has been stalled for too long. I’m aware of the difficulties, I’m not unaware of the obstacles, I’m also aware of all the short cuts that are sometimes made, but I know from experience, and I can testify to it, that you’re a man with the calibre to take up this challenge. I want to express to you here – within a timetable, with due respect for your engagements and also with the necessity of regaining full stability for Israel’s political life – express to you my readiness to help resume this process, this dialogue, and mobilize the international community to support it.

I’ll conclude by talking about Lebanon. You’re aware of my commitment to that country. Its stability is essential to that of the region. We’re going to continue the efforts made to support its recovery. During your visit, I’d like to talk about the negotiations on the maritime border with Israel. Any action, of whatever kind, that might endanger the process under way must be avoided. The two countries have an interest in reaching an agreement enabling energy resources to be exploited to the benefit of the two peoples. France is already contributing and is ready to contribute more.

Those are the few words I wanted to say. But in the face of all these challenges – and I haven’t been exhaustive here: like me, you’re aware of many others, and we’ll have the opportunity to discuss them – I want to tell you here that the Israeli Government and the country, the whole people, are very lucky to have you as their leader. Never forget that you have here in Paris a loyal friend committed to Israel’s security and, above all, to its success in the whole region. As you and I know, this success requires a path of peace. It’s demanding, difficult, but I’m absolutely and profoundly convinced that you’ll have in you all the resources to lead your country there and beyond. (…)./.

Published on 07/07/2022

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