Israelis eligible to vote in the second round of France’s presidential elections on Sunday opted overwhelmingly for the winner, Emmanuel Macron, France’s ambassador to Israel said Monday.
In a post on her Twitter account, Helene Le Gal said that Macron received 96.3 percent of votes in Israel. The vote was seen as an effort to block his opponent, the far-right candidate Marine Le Pen. Overall, Macron won 64% of the vote.
She said that the figure was based on results in Tel Aviv, Netanya, Haifa, Ashdod, Eilat and Beersheba, but did not include votes from the French consulate in Jerusalem.
In an interview with Army Radio, Le Gal said she thought Macron would be “very friendly” toward Israel, but did not elaborate on what the focus in relations between the two countries would be during Macron’s presidency.
Although Macron has not fully detailed his approach to Israel, in an interview on Friday he said that he would not unilaterally recognize a state of Palestine as president and reiterated his support for a two-state solution.
Elaborating, Macron said that “unilateral recognition of Palestine, right now, will undermine stability.” It would also “have implications in the loss of the entire [French] relationship with the State of Israel.”
Macron visited Israel in September 2015 while serving as economy minister under outgoing President Francois Hollande, during which he defended Paris’s support for the European Union’s plans to label products from Israeli settlements, while also expressing its opposition to any boycott of Israel.
Referring to Macron’s 2015 visit, Le Gal told Army Radio that the former banker “was very impressed” with Israel’s startup culture and high-tech companies, and “was inspired by that when he came back to France.”
Following his electoral victory, Israeli politicians from across the spectrum offered their congratulations to Macron, with a number of lawmakers describing his triumph over Le Pen as a defeat for anti-Semitism.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in a statement that he looked forward to working with Macron, in particular in the realm of counterterror.
“I look forward to working with President Macron and together to take on the shared challenges of our two democracies,” he said.
“One of the greatest threats facing the world today is extremist Islamic terror, which carries out attacks in Paris, Jerusalem and many other cities around the world. Israel and France have a longstanding alliance and I am sure that we will continue to deepen our connections,” Netanyahu added.
In a victory speech late Sunday, Macron promised that as president he would defend France against jihadists, who have killed over 230 people in a string of terror attacks since 2015, including a fatal assault on a kosher supermarket in Paris.
“France will be at the forefront of the fight against terrorism,” he said.
Outside polling stations in Israel on Sunday, a number of French voters said that their vote for Macron was first and foremost a vote against Le Pen, whose National Front party has long been accused of anti-Semitism.
Many people mentioned Le Pen’s statement that France was not responsible for the roundup of more than 13,000 Jews at the Vel d’Hiv cycling track, ordered by Nazi officers in 1942, as a reason to oppose her.
Like French citizens in Israel, French Jews breathed a sigh of relief following Macron’s victory over Le Pen, although they also expressed concern over the fact that Le Pen was able to garner as many votes as she did.
Times of Israel staff and agencies contributed to this report.