Bennett: Israel-France ties 'will continue to grow stronger'

Israeli politicians hail Macron win: ‘A good night for France, Europe and the world’

Foreign Minister Yair Lapid lauds the French president as a ‘true friend of Israel’; Sarcelles-born MK Yomtob Kalfon says he hopes for even closer French-Israeli ties

French President Emmanuel Macron visits the Western Wall in Jerusalem's Old City on January 22, 2020. (Shlomi Cohen/Flash90)
French President Emmanuel Macron visits the Western Wall in Jerusalem's Old City on January 22, 2020. (Shlomi Cohen/Flash90)

Israeli politicians hailed French President Emmanuel Macron’s projected victory over his far-right rival Marine Le Pen in the country’s presidential elections on Sunday.

Writing in Hebrew, French and English, Foreign Minister Yair Lapid referred to the centrist Macron as “my good friend” and shared a photograph of the two men hugging.

“President Macron is an important leader of the global center and a true friend of Israel. We’ll continue to work together to strengthen cooperation between our countries,” Lapid wrote.

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett also congratulated Macron, tweeting: “Under your leadership, I have no doubt that the ties between Israel and France will continue to grow stronger.”

Defense Minister Benny Gantz hailed the win, calling Macron  “a bold leader in the international community.”

Interior Minister Ayelet Shaked tweeted her “warmest congratulations” to Macron in French, adding that she hopes to continue to foster the “beautiful relationship” between Paris and Jerusalem.

Deputy Foreign Minister Idan Roll said Macron’s victory bodes well for “a welcome strengthening of the close ties between the nations of Israel and France.”

Health Minister and head of the left-wing Meretz party Nitzan Horowitz was yet more effusive in his praise for the French leader and offered tacit criticism of his rival, Le Pen, who led the far-right National Rally party.

Israeli President Isaac Herzog, right, and French President Emmanuel Macron, center, meet local Jewish leaders at Toulouse, France, March 20, 2022. (Kobi Gideon / GPO)

“Warm wishes to the President of France Emmanuel Macron for winning a second term as president. I have great appreciation for his work, and I am certainly happy about the trouncing he gave Marine Le Pen. This is a good night for France, for Europe and for the world,” Horowitz tweeted.

Macron was set to win 57.0-58.5 percent of the vote compared with Le Pen on 41.5-43%, according to projections by polling firms for French television channels based on a sample of the vote count. This represented a greater margin of victory than was expected going into the vote on Sunday, but it was also the largest vote share that a far-right candidate has ever received in France.

Praise for Macron’s victory came from both sides of the political spectrum in Israel.

Right-wing Knesset member Yomtob Kalfon of the Yamina party, who was born in the Paris suburb of Sarcelles, congratulated Macron on Twitter in both French and Hebrew.

“I hope this term will stand out for the even better ties between [France] and [Israel],” he wrote.

MK Emilie Moatti, of the left-wing Labor party, who lived for several years in France, wrote in a tweet only: “Vive la France!” Earlier in the day she had offered her public support for Macron.

The outcome, expected to be confirmed by official results overnight, caused immense relief in Europe after fears a Le Pen presidency would leave the continent rudderless following Brexit and the departure of long-time German chancellor Angela Merkel.

Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi called Macron’s victory “great news for all of Europe.”

EU president Charles Michel said the bloc can now “count on France for five more years” while commission chief Ursula von der Leyen rapidly congratulated him saying she was “delighted to be able to continue our excellent cooperation.”

In a combative speech to supporters in Paris where she accepted the result but showed no sign of quitting politics, Le Pen, 53, said she would “never abandon” the French and was already preparing for June legislative elections.

“The result represents a brilliant victory,” she said to cheers.

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