Macron welcomes new face of Israel as Lapid visits Paris

Two swap views on Iran and Hezbollah, and resumption of talks with Palestinians

French President Emmanuel Macron, right, and Israeli interim Prime Minister Yair Lapid at Elysee Palace in Paris, on Tuesday.  EPA
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New interim Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid has told French President Emmanuel Macron that Iran does not want a nuclear deal.

Mr Lapid was using a visit to Paris on Tuesday, his first trip as interim premier, to try to persuade the French leader to change tack on a revival of the 2015 nuclear agreement.

Mr Macron also urged him to restart peace talks with the Palestinians, but Mr Lapid said there was little chance of it before a November election because of right-wing members of his caretaker government.

Mr Macron said Paris was determined to land a new agreement with Tehran.

"I want to remind you that we are in favour of the resumption of the negotiations as early as possible, on the return to the [nuclear] agreement," he said.

"We agree with Israel that the deal won't be enough to contain Iran's acts of destabilisation but I remain convinced that an Iran on the verge of nuclear [weapons] would be even more dangerous.

"So we need to defend this agreement, take into account the security interests of our friends in the region — above all Israel — and complete it with negotiations on ballistic and regional activities."

Mr Macron there was "no alternative" to political dialogue to ease tension between Palestinians and Israelis.

"I know how much you can mark history if you relaunch this process, which has been broken for too long," he said.

Mr Macron said he believed Mr Lapid had "what it takes" to succeed.

Mr Lapid said restarting talks on Palestinian statehood, which stalled in 2014, would be good for Israel’s long-time needs.

But in taking over as prime minister from nationalist partner Naftali Bennett this year, he inherited a coalition that includes members opposed to giving any occupied land to the Palestinians.

"We spoke about the Palestinian issue but it wasn’t the major part of the discussion," Mr Lapid said after his meeting with Mr Macron.

"The government make-up remains what it is and the limitations remain what they are."

He said that France had "a full understanding of this", although its questions were "totally legitimate".

Updated: July 05, 2022, 8:31 PM