French President Emmanuel Macron appealed Sunday to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for renewed Israeli-Palestinian peace talks to create two independent states. Macron warned, however, that continued Jewish settlement construction could threaten such negotiations and eventual peace prospects. “I call for a resumption of negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians in the framework of the search for a solution of two states, Israel and Palestine, living in recognized, secure borders with Jerusalem as the capital,” Macron told reporters.
At his side, Netanyahu said, “We share the same desire for a peaceful Middle East,” but didn’t elaborate on eventual peace talks.
Macron condemned an attack last week that killed two Israeli police officers at a Jerusalem shrine revered by Jews and Muslims. Macron’s office said he is concerned about Israel’s security but also worried that Netanyahu is backing away from commitment to a two-state solution.
Macron said France is ready to apply diplomatic levers toward renewed negotiations but gave no specifics. He didn’t indicate any eagerness for France to spearhead such negotiations, after a fruitless French diplomatic effort early this year.
The two leaders also discussed fighting extremism in Syria and elsewhere, and improving economic cooperation.
Earlier Sunday, Macron denounced his country’s collaboration in the Holocaust, lashing out Sunday at those who still downplay the French role in sending tens of thousands of Jews to death.
Commemorating 75 years since a mass roundup of French Jews alongside Netanyahu, Macron insisted that “it was indeed France that organized this.” He said “not a single German” was directly involved, but French police collaborating with the Nazis.
Macron dismissed arguments by French far right leaders that the collaborationist Vichy regime didn’t represent the French state, saying that is “convenient, but it is false.”
Holocaust survivors recounted wrenching stories at the ceremony at the Vel d’Hiv stadium outside Paris, where French police rounded up some 13,000 people on July 16-17, 1942, before they were sent on to camps. Fewer than 100 survived.
Macron also pledged to fight continued anti-Semitism and called for thorough investigation into the recent killing of a Parisian woman believed linked to anti-Jewish sentiment.
Netanyahu said that “recently we have witnessed a rise of extremist forces that seek to destroy not only the Jews, but of course the Jewish state as well, but well beyond that. … Your struggle is our struggle. The zealots of militant Islam, who seek to destroy you, seek to destroy us as well. We must stand against them together.”
Pro-Palestinian and other activists protested Netanyahu’s appearance, criticizing Jewish settlement policy and the blockade of Gaza.