(March 27, 2018 / European Jewish Press) JERUSALEM—French President Emmanuel Macron and Prime Minister Edouard Philippe are due to visit Israel later this year, announced French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian during a visit in Israel on Monday.
They will be followed by Israeli President Reuven Rivlin and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who will visit France.
During a meeting in Jerusalem, both Netanyahu and Le Drian spoke about the “special relationship” between the two countries. Besides top-level visits, a series of more than 200 cultural events are planned this summer to be held in both Israel and France, beginning at the end of May.
“The bond is tightening. This is a sign that the friendship is very deep and strong, and we have much in common. We fight the same fights against terrorism, anti-Semitism and, of course, for the security of the entire region,’’ said Le Drian.
“I had a very moving and difficult moment when I had just concluded my visit to Yad Vashem,” he said. “I heard about the outrageous murder of Mirelle Knoll, a Holocaust survivor, in Paris. We cannot yet say if the motive for the murder was anti-Semitism, but it is reasonable to assume. … “This only strengthens the fact that this struggle has not ended, and that we will need to continue fighting against anti-Semitism.’
Netanyahu also stressed that “there is a friendship between France and Israel that is deep and enduring, and expresses itself in many, many ways.’’
He also told the French minister that Israel grieves the loss of French lives during the latest terror attack in the country last Friday, and called on Paris and the international community to stand united against Iran, which Netanyahu called the “foremost terrorist-sponsoring regime in the world.”
“We saw the horrible tragedy [when three people were shot dead in a supermarket by a man claiming allegiance to ISIS being killed by police], and the people of Israel stand with you,’’ he said. ‘’We have to stand together against this terrorism that afflicts our world. We have to fight terrorists wherever they are. And we have to fight terror-sponsoring regimes wherever they are.”
The Israeli premier asked France to help “roll back [Iran’s] aggression” and help ensure that Iran does not acquire nuclear weapons.
Said Netanyahu: “I think this is the preeminent issue facing the international community in the coming months, in the coming years.”