Macron unveils diverse cabinet featuring critics, advocates of Israel
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Macron unveils diverse cabinet featuring critics, advocates of Israel

Pro-Israel Bruno le Maire takes economy; Agnes Buzyn, born to Polish Jews, becomes health minister

French President Emmanuel Macron (4-L) and Prime Minister Edouard Philippe (3-L) pose for a family photo after the first cabinet meeting at the Elysee Palace in Paris, France, May 18, 2017.   
/ AFP PHOTO / POOL / PHILIPPE WOJAZER
French President Emmanuel Macron (4-L) and Prime Minister Edouard Philippe (3-L) pose for a family photo after the first cabinet meeting at the Elysee Palace in Paris, France, May 18, 2017. / AFP PHOTO / POOL / PHILIPPE WOJAZER

French President Emmanuel Macron presented a diverse cabinet of 22 ministers, including a Jew, a Muslim and both advocates and critics of Israel.

Macron, a centrist who had served in governments led both by Socialists and Republicans before his election on May 7 on an independent ticket, appointed on Wednesday as his foreign minister Jean-Yves Le Drian, a former defense minister under the previous president, Francois Hollande of the Socialist Party.

In 2014, Le Drian wrote in a statement that France “condemns” the firing of rockets into Israel “but requests that Israel” minimize any harm to civilians in its attacks on Hamas.

Macron appointed Edouard Philippe, a lawmaker from the moderate wing of the main center-right Republicans party, as prime minister.

Macron appointed to health minister Agnes Buzyn, a physician born to a Polish Jewish couple. Her father survived the Holocaust and her mother was born in France shortly after the war to Jewish immigrants from Poland. She is one of 11 women whom Macron made ministers – exactly half of his cabinet.

Francois Bayrou, who has in the past criticized what he has called Israel’s “arbitrary and unjust arrests of Palestinians” among other alleged actions by the Jewish state, was named minister of justice.

Bruno le Maire of the Republicans party was made minister of the economy. Pro-Israel activists in France regard him as a staunch ally and defender of the Jewish state, according to the right-leaning news site Alyaexpress.

Last year, le Maire criticized Hollande’s government for supporting a vote at the United Nations educational branch, UNESCO, which ignored Jewish ties to Jerusalem. He called it “a moral and political error.”

French right-wing Les Republicains candidate for the party primary ahead of the 2017 presidential elections, Bruno Le Maire, gestures after a political meeting on September 18, 2016 in Sete, southeastern France. (AFP/SYLVAIN THOMAS)
French right-wing Les Republicains candidate for the party primary ahead of the 2017 presidential elections, Bruno Le Maire, gestures after a political meeting on September 18, 2016 in Sete, southeastern France. (AFP/SYLVAIN THOMAS)

Marielle De Sarnez, a former lawmaker at the European Parliament who in 2010 visited Hamas-controlled Gaza and co-authored a letter urging Israel to lift its blockade of the area, was appointed as the minister in charge of European affairs. The letter she co-signed did not mention Hamas’ violations of human rights and terrorist activities. It also praised the work of UNRWA, a UN agency which Israel in those years accused of incitement, as “fantastic.”

Macron appointed Mounir Majhoubi, a 33-year-old entrepreneur whose family is Muslim and has Moroccan roots, to be France’s minister in charge of digitization. Majhoubi in 2010 opened a successful high-tech firm together with his then business partner, the French-Jewish developer Marc-David Choukroun.

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