Israel’s Lapid to meet Macron in Paris on his 1st trip as PM
JERUSALEM — Israel’s caretaker prime minister left Tuesday for a day-long visit to Paris to meet with French President Emmanuel Macron. It was the first overseas trip by Yair Lapid since he took office last week.
Lapid said one of the main objectives of his meeting with Macron was to convey Israel’s position concerning the Iranian nuclear deal currently being negotiated between world powers and Iran. France is one of the parties in those talks.
“It is important that our opinion is heard at this time against this dangerous deal, against the organization and nuclearization of Iran in this matter,” Lapid told reporters on the tarmac before takeoff.
Lapid assumed office as Israel’s prime minister after parliament voted to disband last week, sending the country to its fifth round of elections in under four years. Lapid was previously foreign minister in the coalition government formed last year that ousted longtime leader Benjamin Netanyahu.
He heads the centrist Yesh Atid party, and was one of the architects of the historic alliance of eight diverse factions united in opposition to Netanyahu, the first governing coalition to include an Arab party.
He also said he would discuss affairs about neighboring Lebanon, days after Israel said it downed three unmanned aircraft launched by the Lebanese militant group Hezbollah that were heading toward an area where Israel recently installed an offshore gas platform. Hezbollah has confirmed sending the unarmed drones in a reconnaissance mission.
Israel and Lebanon do not have formal diplomatic relations, but have been engaged in indirect U.S.-brokered talks to delineate their maritime border. France is a key supporter of Lebanon, a former French protectorate, and Macron has unsuccessfully tried to broker a solution to Lebanon’s political crisis.
“Israel will not agree to this kind of attacks on its sovereignty, and anyone who does this needs to know that they are taking an unnecessary risk to their well-being,” Lapid said. “The Lebanese government needs to rein in Hezbollah in regards to these attacks, or we will be forced to do so.”