Macron congratulates Netanyahu on election win, says he hopes PM will seek peace
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Macron congratulates Netanyahu on election win, says he hopes PM will seek peace

French president: Next Israeli government should ‘make it possible to decisively revive the Middle East peace process and to achieve a two-state solution’

French President Emmanuel Macron, right, and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu shake hands during a joint press conference after their meeting at the Elysee Palace in Paris, on June 5, 2018. (Philippe Wojazer/AFP)
French President Emmanuel Macron, right, and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu shake hands during a joint press conference after their meeting at the Elysee Palace in Paris, on June 5, 2018. (Philippe Wojazer/AFP)

French President Emmanuel Macron sent a letter to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Thursday congratulating him on his election victory and saying that he hoped the next Israeli government “will make it possible to decisively revive the Middle East peace process and to achieve a two-state solution.”

“France has a relationship with Israel that is characterized by extraordinary friendship. It will work with the new Israeli government to expand cooperation in every area, and will continue the dialogue on regional and security issues,” the letter read, according to copy provided by France’s Foreign Ministry.

“France also hopes that the formation of a new government will make it possible to decisively revive the Middle East peace process and to achieve a two-State solution, with Israel and Palestine living side by side in peace and security, in accordance with internationally agreed parameters,” Macron said.

In the immediate days after last Tuesday’s national ballot, Netanyahu took congratulatory calls from US President Donald Trump and his Vice President Mike Pence, Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban, Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades, Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borissov, Guatemalan President Jimmy Morales and Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernández.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu greets supporters at his Likud party headquarters in the coastal city of Tel Aviv on election night early on April 10, 2019 (Thomas Coex/AFP)

But several world leaders chose to wait until final results were announced and President Rivlin tasked Netanyahu with forming a government, which happened on Wednesday evening this week. While the final tally gave Netanyahu’s Likud party the same amount of Knesset seats as its chief rival Blue and White, the 10-year incumbent was given another nod by Rivlin after parties representing 65 seats, a majority in the 120-seat parliament, recommended him to remain in office and lead the next government.

Netanyahu has previously touted his relationship with Macron, who has hosted the prime minister at the Elysee Palace in Paris a number of times and treated him far more amicably than his predecessors.

Four days before the elections, however, Blue and White party No. 2 Yair Lapid met privately with Macron at the Elysee Palace in a move that some in the Likud described as an effort to “help Lapid win the elections.”

Blue and White party No. 2 Yair Lapid meets with French President Emmanuel Macron in Paris, April 5, 2019. (Facebook screenshot)

Macron’s latest call for Netanyahu to commit to a two-state solution comes after reports late last year the French leader was planning to issue an Israeli-Palestinian peace plan if US President Donald Trump failed to follow through on his own promises for such a proposal. Macron was said to have instructed his foreign ministry to explore new ideas for resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and had reportedly signaled to Trump that if the US does not move ahead, Paris will.

Trump has notably refused to endorse the two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. His peace team, led by son-in-law Jared Kushner, has repeatedly pushed back the release of a peace plan it says it is preparing, and it remains unclear when it will be released.

Kushner’s team has said little about its proposal. But its limited public statements have indicated it will call for large amounts of economic investment in the Palestinians, but given no sign that it will include their demand for independence.

On Thursday, Kushner told diplomats the plan would be rolled out after the new Israeli government is sworn in and following the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, which ends June 5.

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