Bennett, Macron discuss new settlement construction, Al Jazeera journalist’s death

While PM thanks France for its support during terror attacks, Elysee stresses its disapproval of planned settlement expansion

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett (left) meets French President Emmanuel Macron at the COP26 UN climate summit in Glasgow, Scotland, on November 1, 2021. (Haim Zach/GPO)
Prime Minister Naftali Bennett (left) meets French President Emmanuel Macron at the COP26 UN climate summit in Glasgow, Scotland, on November 1, 2021. (Haim Zach/GPO)

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett held a phone call Tuesday with French President Emmanuel Macron, and thanked him for France’s support for Israel during the recent wave of terror attacks.

France has released a number of public statements supporting Israel during the attacks, including in Hebrew, saying that it “stands by the side of the citizens of Israel more than ever.”

Bennett also congratulated Macron on being elected for a second term, which officially began last week.

According to a statement released by the Prime Minister’s Office, the two leaders discussed “the regional security situation, with an emphasis on Iran.” They also spoke about the implications of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, and opportunities for further cooperation on a range of issues.

The French-language readout of the call from the Elysee was more critical.

“While welcoming once again the recent normalization of Israel’s relations with several countries in the region, the President of the Republic expressed his concern about the recent Israeli announcements in terms of settlements, and his desire to contribute to a revival of peace efforts in the Middle East,” it read.

This file photo from October 13, 2021, shows construction in the Israeli settlement of Rahalim, located near the Palestinian village of Yatma, south of Nablus in the northern West Bank. (Jaafar Ashtiyeh/AFP)

The Defense Ministry body that authorizes West Bank construction greenlit plans last week for 4,427 new settlement homes.

Earlier Tuesday, Bennett paid a visit to the West Bank settlement of Elkana and touted construction as the answer to violence, lauding the recent approval of “the largest volume of construction at once” in the settlement.

In addition to settlement construction, an Israeli official told The Times of Israel last week that the panel was also set to approve plans for some 1,000 Palestinian homes in the West Bank.

Macron also brought up the killing of Al Jazeera journalist Shireen Abu Akleh, and, while not blaming Israel, stressed France’s desire for the investigation to be brought to a rapid conclusion.

Al Jazeera correspondent Abu Akleh, 51, a Palestinian-American, was shot in the head while covering the Israeli operation in Jenin.

Israel and Palestinians have been wrangling over how to conduct an investigation into Abu Akleh’s death, as the Palestinian Authority said last week that while international bodies could “participate” in the investigation, Israel would not be permitted to join the probe.

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