Macron calls for renewed peace talks, vows to strengthen Israeli-French relations

Hope Soto
July 18, 2017

On Sunday, the Haaretz newspaper reported that during a press conference following his meeting with French President Emmanuel Macron in France, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu voiced his opposition to the Russian-US deal on the ceasefire as the agreement secures Iran's presence in war-torn Syria.

Anxious that Mr Netanyahu is backing away from commitment to a two-state solution, Mr Macron assailed Jewish settlement construction as a threat to worldwide hopes for peace.

It remains unclear, however, whether Macron will follow the more interventionist approach taken by his predecessor Francois Hollande, whose efforts to mobilize the worldwide community on the question infuriated Israel.

Yet, the French head of state said continued Israeli settlement policy could hamper effort to forge a diplomatic end to the conflict.

A U.S. official told The Associated Press that Israel had been "a part" of the agreement, but did not elaborate, while Haaretz reported that senior Israeli officials were only briefed on the talks and not a direct party to them.

Since then, all attempts to revive negotiations have failed, due mainly to Israel's insistence on continuing settlement construction on occupied Arab land.

"France has always condemned the continuation of settlement building, which is illegal under global law and has reached an unprecedented level since the beginning of the year", he said in his first public remarks on the conflict since taking office. Clad in green "Free Palestine T-Shirts", they held up signs with pictures of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

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Macron also cited other examples of violent antisemitism and racism during the ceremony, which commemorated the 13,000 Jews deported to Auschwitz in July 1942 from an internment camp at the Velodrome d'Hiver, a cycling stadium near the Eiffel Tower.

Macron addressed Netanyahu with his nickname "Bibi" at the start of his speech at the commemoration ceremony.

The Union of French Jews for Peace, a pro-Palestinian organisation, described the decision to invite Mr Netanyahu as "shocking" and "unacceptable".

Apart from that, the newspaper cited a senior Israeli official who spoke on condition of anonymity as saying that Israel is aware of Iran's plans to expand its military presence in Syria.

Many politicians in France have acknowledged their country's responsibility for the murder of almost a quarter of its Jewish population, including Jaques Chirac, who as president in 1995 said that France "carried out the criminal insanity of the occupier" at Vel d'Hiv. "France, on that day, committed the irreparable".

Leaders of British and French Jews issued divergent statements about the controversy over egalitarian prayer at the Western Wall. Hostilities between Israel and Syria also regularly escalate as Israeli planes hit targets in Syria in response to cross-border fire incidents, while also attacking groups the former deems hostile inside the country.

Other reports by MaliBehiribAe

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