Official speeches and statements - June 7, 2018
1. Israel - Statements by Mr. Emmanuel Macron, President of the Republic, at his press conference with Mr. Benjamin Netanyahu, Prime Minister of Israel - excerpts (Paris - June 6, 2018)
I’m happy to welcome Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to France for the third time in a year. This visit is a sign of Franco-Israeli friendship and the historic depth of our relationship, with the inauguration of the France-Israel season of [cultural and scientific] exchanges in France and the commemoration of the 70th anniversary of the creation of the State of Israel. (...)
I had a long meeting with Prime Minister Netanyahu and in-depth discussions on the regional situation and ways of protecting the Middle East’s stability and ensuring Israel’s security, to which France remains fundamentally committed.
You’re aware of the deep concern aroused in our two countries by regional instability, including Iran’s military presence in the region. I reiterated to the Prime Minister my profound conviction, shared by our European partners, that the 2015 agreement on Iran’s nuclear programme must be protected in order to control nuclear activity in the region, but that it’s never been regarded by France - at any rate, for just over a year [it hasn’t] - as sufficient and fully satisfactory.
In this respect, we had a discussion which, I believe, enabled significant progress following the talks we’d each had and the talks I’d had in the previous weeks - in particular, of course, with my European counterparts and President Putin.
Our wish is actually to make progress towards more stability in the region. As I’ve always reiterated and confirmed, for us the 2015 agreement is a step, at any rate a package, which needs to be complemented by an agreement on nuclear activity post-2025, work on Iran’s ballistic activity and work on Iran’s regional military presence.
On this point, the Syria issue is clearly crucial, and I believe we’re all gradually converging towards joint work on this subject and this situation. It emerged that we agreed on triggering a coordination mechanism between the Small Group set up by France and the member countries of the Astana format.
In the framework of this cooperation and coordination mechanism, we’d like to fully insist on finding a solution to ensure, firstly, the full sovereignty of tomorrow’s Syria, which is an extremely important factor for Israel’s security, and I believe our long discussion was entirely in keeping with that. Secondly, a constitutional change on which Russia has also taken several initiatives, and thirdly the organization of free elections, in which all Syrians present in the country or outside the country could take part.
We agree that such a process and such a mechanism would enable useful progress to be made and work to be done on greater security, and this is one of the elements of this broader regional settlement I was talking about.
I recalled our commitment to combating the threats to regional stability which are taking root in Syria, precisely in the absence of a settlement to the conflict at political level, and it seems to me that this process, this coordination mechanism and the steps forward that we must push for collectively and jointly in the coming weeks are likely to bring about the first responses to such a settlement. That’s the message I sent during my visit to Moscow last week, and we talked about it at length. It’s also - I think I can say this here - a significant factor for the stability of other, neighbouring countries: I’m thinking especially of Lebanon.
ISRAEL / PALESTINE
We also talked together about the situation linked to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and I recalled France’s position, which is known and which I’ve continuously recalled, whatever decisions are taken by others, [namely] our commitment to a fair, lasting solution based on two states, Israel and Palestine, living side by side in peace and security with each having Jerusalem as its capital.
In this respect, I told the Prime Minister how deeply worried I was about the threats today hanging over the prospects of peace, and in this regard the events of the past few weeks have fuelled a legitimate concern. As such, I reiterated the position I’ve constantly taken: condemnation of every kind of violence against civilians and particularly in Gaza these past few weeks, commitment to Israel’s security and condemnation of every kind of incitement to violence or of political choices championed by certain groups - I’m thinking in particular of Hamas. This is the balance we’ll continuously strike.
So in order to do useful work, I told Prime Minister Netanyahu that France wishes to be even more involved in resolving the acute humanitarian crisis. We started discussions and even began significant work going beyond what France has already been doing with Jordan. We’re going to continue this with other partners in the region and I’d like us to make a useful contribution with our European partners and other partners in the region. I think [what’s needed is] both a humanitarian response to the acute crisis being played out today in Gaza and a useful response in terms of Israel’s security and stability.
Finally, we were able to talk about the bilateral relationship and the concrete cooperation efforts embodying the friendship between our two countries - close coordination in the fight against terrorism, which is an absolute priority for our two countries. (...) We’d like to further strengthen the dynamic economic exchanges by drawing, among other things, on the human ties uniting our countries. These exchanges were again illustrated at the VivaTech show, where there were many Israeli entrepreneurs, start-ups, already successful businesses and investors. (...)