NEW YORK — French President Emmanuel Macron on Tuesday urged world leaders to reject “the law of the most powerful,” offering a rebuke to Donald Trump’s go-it-alone approach to global challenges, including the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Macron did not refer to the US president by name but his address to the UN General Assembly outlined positions that were polar opposites to Trump’s world view.
“What can resolve the crisis between Israel and Palestine?” he asked according to a Reuters report of his address. “Not unilateral initiatives, nor trampling on the legitimate rights of the Palestinian people to legitimate peace nor underestimating Israel’s fair right to security.”
“There is no credible alternative to the two-state solution living side by side in peace and security with Jerusalem as capital,” Macron continued.
Paris led the last major international push for the Palestinians in the waning days of the Barack Obama administration. Since then, Trump has spurned mutlilateral efforts and backed away from a commitment to the two-state solution, and the White House has prepared its own peace plan, though it has yet to release it or even announce a timetable.
Since Trump took office in 2017, the United States has also ditched the Iran nuclear deal and the Paris climate deal — two international accords that France has championed.
“Some have chosen the law of the most powerful, but it cannot protect any people,” said Macron, who reaffirmed his strong backing for multilateralism embodied by the United Nations and its global peace efforts.
Earlier at the UN podium, Trump vowed to “never surrender America’s sovereignty to an unelected, unaccountable global bureaucracy” and to reject “the ideology of globalism.”
Defending the Iran nuclear deal, Macron urged dialogue with Tehran, again clashing with the US president who a few hours earlier called on world governments to isolate Iran.
“What will bring a real solution to the situation in Iran and what has already stabilized it? The law of the strongest? Pressure from only one side? No!” Macron said in his address.
“We know that Iran was on a nuclear military path but what stopped it? The 2015 Vienna accord.”
Trump in May withdrew from the seven-nation agreement negotiated under his predecessor Barack Obama, calling it a “disaster” and instead ramping up pressure on Iran including through renewed sanctions.
Supported by Israel and Saudi Arabia, Trump has sought to roll back Iranian influence around the Middle East, including in war-ravaged Syria.
“We should not aggravate regional tensions but rather through dialogue and multilateralism pursue a broader agenda that allows us to address all the concerns caused by Iranian policies — nuclear, ballistic, regional,” said Macron.
Speaking at a press conference, Macron said Iran should be able to sell oil to bring down prices, challenging Trump’s plan to tighten an economic vise around Iran.
“It would be good for the price of oil for Iran to be able to sell it. It’s good for peace and it’s good for the shape of the international price of oil,” said Macron.
France and other European powers are setting up a way to allow businesses to keep doing business in Iran in hopes of avoiding sanctions by the United States.
The French president was due to hold talks later in the day with his Iranian counterpart Hassan Rouhani, who has refused to meet Trump.
Despite their vastly differing world views, Macron and Trump — both political outsiders who defied the odds in winning power — have forged an unlikely relationship.
After meeting with Macron on Monday, Trump said the two men have had “some very good experiences” but acknowledged, “on occasion not so good, but 99 percent very good.”