Bennett, Lapid congratulate ‘friend of Israel’ Macron on election win

The foreign minister met with the reelected French president in November to discuss the nuclear talks between world powers and Iran.

French President Emmanuel Macron, candidate for his re-election in the 2022 French presidential election, attends a political campaign rally at Paris La Defense Arena in Nanterre, France, April 2, 2022. (photo credit: REUTERS/SARAH MEYSSONNIER)
French President Emmanuel Macron, candidate for his re-election in the 2022 French presidential election, attends a political campaign rally at Paris La Defense Arena in Nanterre, France, April 2, 2022.
(photo credit: REUTERS/SARAH MEYSSONNIER)

Israeli leaders have sent their congratulations to French President Emmanuel Macron who was reelected on Sunday.  

Foreign Minister Yair Lapid tweeted congratulations to his “good friend” Macron.

“President Macron is an important leader of the global center and a true friend of Israel. We’ll continue to work together to strengthen cooperation between our countries,” he wrote.

Lapid and Macron have a friendship stretching back to when they both entered politics, with the former as finance minister and the latter as economy minister. They have much in common politically. Both established successful centrist parties built to a great extent around their own personalities.

 Lapid met with Macron in November to discuss the nuclear talks between world powers and Iran.

 PRESIDENT ISAAC HERZOG with French President Emmanuel Macron.  (credit: KOBI GIDEON/GPO) PRESIDENT ISAAC HERZOG with French President Emmanuel Macron. (credit: KOBI GIDEON/GPO)

 Prime Minister Naftali Bennett tweeted in English and French: “Congratulations to my friend Emmanuel Macron on being reelected President of France. Under your leadership, I have no doubt that the ties between Israel and France will continue to grow stronger.”

 Bennett and Macron met at the UN Climate Change Conference in Glasgow last year. The meeting took place at a tense time in relations between Israel and France over the use of the spying software Pegasus, owned by Israeli company NSO and licensed by the Defense Ministry, on Macron’s phone and others. However, the two leaders were able to smooth over the problem in person.

 Macron won 86.66% of the vote in French election ballots in Israel, while Le Pen got 13.34%. He did best in Tel Aviv, where 91.11% of French voters chose Macron, while Le Pen did best in Ashdod, with 22.55% of the vote.The turnout was only 10.77%.

Macron is seen in Jerusalem as a relatively friendly French president. Cooperation between Israel and France in science, hi-tech, education, medicine and culture have increased since Macron became president in 2017, as well as in intelligence and counter-terrorism.

 France has been more vocal on the Iranian nuclear threat in negotiations over the last year, with Iran even calling France the “bad cop” in the talks. France has been willing to hear Israel’s position on the Iranian threat.

 Though the Palestinians have not been a priority during Macron’s presidency, he maintained the usual French position, calling for a two-state solution and opposing settlements. He spoke out strongly against settlements, labeling Israel an apartheid state.

In Lebanon, where Macron has tried to help the failing state rebuild, he has engaged with Hezbollah elements in the government.

The growing popularity of his challenger in the runoff for France’s presidency, Marine Le Pen, has been a matter of concern for the Jewish community in France and many French Jews in Israel, due to her and her family’s ultra-nationalist past.

Her father, Jean-Marie Le Pen was an outspoken Holocaust denier and an antisemite. While she has distanced herself from some of his positions, the nativist attitude and base remain to a great extent.

 Le Pen has expressed admiration for Israel as part of her opposition to Islamic extremism. At the same time, she has said Iran has a right to a nuclear program. She praised Syrian President Bashar Assad, who has butchered about half a million of his own citizens. And Le Pen also maintains traditional French positions on the Palestinians.