TEL AVIV – French presidential frontrunner Emmanuel Macron on Sunday slammed the boycott movement against Israel as anti-Semitic and said that recognizing a Palestinian state at this stage would serve no purpose.
Macron, an independent presidential candidate who has been leading in the polls recently, further slammed the notion that Iran and Hezbollah could be viewed as allies given their shared interest in defeating the Islamic State.
The 39-year-old candidate made his remarks in an interview on the Jewish community’s Radio J station in Paris, two weeks ahead of the first round of French elections.
In response to a question about whether France would recognize a Palestinian state if Macron were elected president, he replied: “The key is recognizing two states in the region, with diplomatic balance work to build peace. If France commits to a unilateral process of recognizing Palestine, we are contributing to an imbalance and will weaken France’s ability to play a role in regional stability and in this conflict. … This is why I will put all my energy and work with others to create a pacifying atmosphere which could lead us to a peace agreement.’’
“My line is clear: We are friends of the State of Israel and partners for Israel’s security. We will always be in this camp. … At the same time, from the beginning, France has always worked for the recognition of two states. And in this context, I would like to advance with the recognition of two states and with efforts to pacify the region,’’ he added.
However, Macron berated Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s policy on the settlements as “unhelpful.”
Settlement expansion, he said, “does not help to pacify the region or to stabilize the conflict. The nature of his policies does not increase collective security.’’
Macron has been vocal about his opposition to the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel.
“French law prohibits that,” Macron said. “There are several laws against boycotting. There is no question of changing that law and no question of acting indulgently on this. For me, these are anti-Zionist moves, thus profoundly anti-Semitic.’’
He further slammed a BDS march in the center of Paris earlier this month. “These people are taking the wrong route … eradicating our history. I condemn this approach both legally and politically.’’
Macron added that “anti-Zionism leads directly to anti-Semitism.”
Macron panned the suggestion raised by his chief rival, Francois Fillon, that Iran and Hezbollah be tolerated as allies at least with respect to fighting IS.
“Francois Fillon at some point in 2015 presented an indulgent approach vis-à-vis Hezbollah. This was not long ago, and I don’t think that Hezbollah has changed profoundly. There can be no indulgence concerning Hezbollah,’’ he said.
While the Islamic Republic will in all likelihood be included in negotiations when the transition to a new Syrian government is discussed “this does not mean that we will become allies of Iran,’’ he added.