Zionist Union MK meets French presidential candidate Emmanuel Macron at the Jerusalem Venture Partners building in September 2005..
(photo credit: EREL MARGALIT'S OFFICE)
Israeli politicians who have met Emmanuel Macron said Monday they are impressed with the French presidential candidate.
Macron, who will face a runoff race against far-right candidate Marine Le Pen on May 7, was in Israel in September 2015 when he was economy minister and met with his counterpart at the time, Arye Deri.
“I was very impressed by him,” Deri said. “He was an economy minister who was young, energetic, very friendly and very professional.”
The Prime Minister’s Office had no idea at the time that Macron would be a future presidential candidate so he did not receive a meeting with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. But two Israeli politicians who see themselves as future prime ministers have built close ties with the French candidate.
Macron met Labor leadership candidate Erel Margalit when he came to Jerusalem, which led to an invitation to Margalit to meet with Macron and French President Francois Holland at the Elysee Palace.
Margalit, who was a hi-tech entrepreneur before he entered politics, said the two have met four or five times, sometimes spending a full day together discussing innovation.
“If Macron is elected, France will embark on an innovation economy and Israel will be at the center of its economic cooperation,” Margalit said. “Macron asked me how to build a start-up nation. He wanted advice on government policies that encourage innovation. I asked him to cooperate with Israel on cyber security, agriculture and food, communications and the Internet.”
According to Margalit, Macron inquired about advancing joint Israeli-Palestinian economic projects in Bethlehem as a catalyst for building relations. Asked for Macron’s view on diplomatic issues, Margalit said he “wants the two-state solution to be win-win for Israel.”
Projections say Macron, Le Pen go through to runoff in French vote (credit: REUTERS)
Yesh Atid leader Yair Lapid, meanwhile, posted a statement on Facebook calling Macron “my friend” and calling upon voters to ensure his victory over Le Pen.
“Although we don’t get involved in elections in other countries, this time I will make an exception,” Lapid wrote. “Anyone who has the right to vote, in Israel or in France, needs to support Macron against Marine Le Pen in the second round.
This is a fight between the sane center and dangerous populism. Especially on Holocaust Remembrance Day, it is important to take a stand between a true friend of the Jewish people and a candidate who denied the role of the France in the Holocaust of French Jewry.”
Lapid noted favorably that, in France, the two main political parties in the Center-Right and Center- Left had not advanced to the second round of the election.
“The parties of old politics have been left out,” Lapid wrote.
The Wall Street Journal reported last week that Lapid saw Macron as a model for himself and Yesh Atid.
“In staking out the political center, Mr. Lapid has repeatedly compared himself to a fellow former finance minister, Emmanuel Macron,” the newspaper wrote.
“The Israeli politician describes his candidacy as part of a new, moderate, backlash against the populist wave he says was evidenced by Brexit and Donald Trump’s election in the US.”