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Netanyahu in Paris to press Macron on Iran

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is due to hold talks with French President Emmanuel Macron on Thursday in hopes of gaining support against Iran’s nuclear program amid a surge in Israeli-Palestinian violence.

The Israeli embassy in Paris said the two would discuss “international efforts to stop Iran’s nuclear program”.

Netanyahu hoped that Iran’s supply of drones to Russian invaders in Ukraine and its crackdown on domestic protests would prompt Western allies to drop any efforts to revive the 2015 atomic energy deal.

The prime minister also said Israel was considering military aid to Ukraine, apparently abandoning a previous more neutral stance in the conflict in favor of a more confrontational Western stance toward Iran.

David Khalfa of the Paris-based think tank Jean Jaures said that by “playing the Ukraine card”, Netanyahu wanted to “strengthen the front against Iran” with the West.

Halfa added that he wanted to “strengthen sanctions on Tehran and fully add the Revolutionary Guard Corps” to the list of sanctioned entities – a move France and Germany have so far opposed.

Israel has long accused Iran of seeking nuclear weapons. Tehran insists the sole purpose of its nuclear program is to generate energy.

Standing with Ukraine is not without risks for Netanyahu, as Russian air defenses deployed in neighboring Syria could be turned against Israeli aircraft, which occasionally attack Iranian interests there.

A diplomatic source told AFP that France agreed it needed to be “firm” in its dealings with Iran, saying its nuclear program had reached a “dangerous point” and stressing its role in the Ukraine war.

– “Stand firm” on Iran –

Tehran has also detained several foreign nationals held as political hostages by Western governments.

Netanyahu’s visit came after a drone attack on a Defense Ministry facility in the Iranian city of Isfahan over the weekend, which Tehran blamed on Israel.

The New York Times and the Wall Street Journal, citing unnamed officials, said the attack was carried out by Israel’s intelligence agency, the Mossad, though that claim has not been confirmed by Israel.

Macron’s office said the French leader would also “reiterate (to Netanyahu) the need for all parties to avoid measures that could fuel the cycle of violence between Israelis and Palestinians” — while saying “France is facing Solidarity with Israel in times of terrorism”.

New violence intensifies between Israelis and Palestinians, Netanyahu visits. Israeli warplanes struck the Gaza Strip early Thursday, drawing retaliatory rocket fire from Palestinian missiles.

A week earlier, a Palestinian gunman shot and killed seven people outside a synagogue in an Israeli settler neighborhood in annexed East Jerusalem.

It was the deadliest attack against Israeli civilians in more than a decade, a day after an Israeli attack in the West Bank killed 10 Palestinians.

There was no press conference during the Macron-Netanyahu dinner at the French President’s Elysee Palace office starting at 1900 GMT.

The Israeli embassy said Netanyahu would stay in France until Saturday, where he would also meet with French business leaders and leaders of the country’s Jewish community.

Judicial reforms planned by the prime minister’s recent coalition of right-wing, far-right and ultra-Orthodox Jewish parties have angered some businessmen, especially in the financial sector, who have threatened to quit Israel.


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