Netanyahu says France supports Israel’s anti-Iran policies
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Netanyahu says France supports Israel’s anti-Iran policies

PM praises French president for being prepared to act against threat to Middle East with ‘courage and boldness’

Raphael Ahren is the diplomatic correspondent at The Times of Israel.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (L) and French President Emmanuel Macron shake hands during a joint news conference following their meeting at the Elysee Palace in Paris on December 10, 2017. (AFP/Pool/Philippe Wojazer)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (L) and French President Emmanuel Macron shake hands during a joint news conference following their meeting at the Elysee Palace in Paris on December 10, 2017. (AFP/Pool/Philippe Wojazer)

PARIS — France is supportive of Israel’s policies to counter Iran’s aggressive behavior in the region, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Sunday.

Iran is trying to do two things: entrench itself militarily in Syria and build factories for precision missiles, Netanyahu told reporters at the Israeli Embassy in Paris, shortly after he concluded a meeting with French President Emmanuel Macron at the Elysée Palace.

“We’re determined to prevent this, and we found an open ear and a supporting attitude,” Netanyahu said.

The prime minister hailed Macron as one of few Western leaders who speaks out against Iranian acts of aggression in Syria and Lebanon, adding that he and the president “agreed on many strategic issues.”

Netanyahu said Israel acts to protect its interests in the region, hinting at reported air strikes in Syria and Lebanon to prevent Iranian efforts to establish itself militarily there. “I did not meet real opposition to this position,” he said of his meeting with Macron.

French President Emmanuel Macron (L) shakes hands with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu upon his arrival at the Elysee Palace on December 10, 2017 in Paris. (AFP/Ludovic Marin)

“Previous presidents of France recognized the danger, but they didn’t act on it with the same courage and boldness as Macron does, and that is very important,” Netanyahu said.

Israel and France agreed to increase already strong security cooperation,” he said.

During the briefing, Netanyahu also praised Israel’s security establishment for having detected and destroyed a Hamas terror tunnel from Gaza into Israel. However, he added that it was a “cat and mouse game,” in that Israel’s enemies will work to find ways to work around the Israeli technologies that detected the tunnel.

“It will take time [until we completely eliminate the problem of terror tunnels], but there is no doubt progress,” he said.

Netanyahu once again hailed US President Donald Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, saying it fixed “a historic anomaly.” He dismissed the notion that Israel will have to make any concessions to the Palestinians “in return for the favor.”

“It was a historic anomaly, and it was about time that it is changed,” he said. “The idea that we have to give anything in return is absurd.”

Trump didn’t make his promise last week to move the US Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem “as a give and take,” Netanyahu added. “He repaired a historic wrong, and over time it will be seen as such.”

The prime minister said that he is not yet fully aware of Trump’s peace proposal, but noted that Jerusalem is one of the “core issues” that will be on the table. “We never ruled out that Jerusalem be discussed. The Palestinians have their positions on it, and they are free to bring them up,” he said. “We never rule out discussions — we rule out [certain] results,” he said, adding that his government’s opposition to a partition of Israel is well-known.

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