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Europe, France plan active Middle East policy

Newly elected French President Emmanuel Macron wants France to take a central role in international diplomacy and in resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
French President Emmanuel Macron attends a meeting at the Elysee Palace in Paris, France May 21, 2017. REUTERS/Philippe Wojazer - RTX36W98

There was a sigh of relief across European Union member states when Emmanuel Macron was declared the next president of France on May 7. The wave of right-wing anti-globalization and anti-EU that began with the Brexit vote in the United Kingdom and continued with the election of Donald Trump as US president was stopped by the French electorate. The 39-year-old French centrist politician, a former member of the socialist government and who was the most pro-EU candidate, marched to his victory speech at the Louvre Museum to the tune of the EU anthem.

For the first time since the election of Francois Hollande in 2012, France was hailed in liberal circles across the world and by all governments interested in EU continued stability. Yet there were two noteworthy exceptions. Trump was probably not overjoyed on Macron’s victory; only two weeks before the French election he tweeted that extreme right National Front Marine Le Pen was the strongest candidate on immigration and French border topics. In Israel, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu preferred a Macron victory over Le Pen, a candidate whose party has anti-Semitic roots, but according to a senior Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs official, Jerusalem is concerned with a strong French president espousing foreign policy ambitions who may want to set in motion a new French initiative on a two-state solution.

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