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Israel's Netanyahu echoes 'shared estimate' with France on Iran, 'serious concerns' on Ukraine

"I must note that we share concerns and we share the estimates on the nature of the Tehran regime," Netanyahu said following his meeting with Macron
LUDOVIC MARIN/AFP via Getty Images

PARIS — On a visit to Paris this week, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Friday that France and Israel have shared "concerns and estimates" about Iran's nuclear program,

Speaking with reporters, Netanyahu touted a shared estimate with French President Emmanuel Macron on Tehran's threats. 

"The conversation between Macron and myself was excellent. He agreed to consider sanctioning the IRGC. We spoke about coordination on different issues. I must note that we share concerns and we share the estimates on the nature of the Tehran regime. There is certainly a rapprochement," he said. 

Netanyahu added that Iran's cooperation with Russia came up in the meeting. 

"Macron spoke about Ukraine. I explained our policy. I told him that the cooperation of Iran with Russia is very serious as far as we are concerned, and that we act independently against Iran on different levels," the Israeli Prime Minister said. 

A senior Israeli diplomatic source noted that the current Israeli government has adopted the same policy as its predecessor on the issue of assistance to Ukraine. Jerusalem does not intend to offer Ukraine Iron Dome anti-missile batteries or other aerial weapons. The source observed that as the only country with jets flying at spitting distance from Russian ones on a daily basis in Syria, Israel must be extremely careful. Still, the Netanyahu government plans to reexamine the issue of assistance.

Netanyahu did not explicitly say that he had asked Macron to advance the Iran Revolutionary Guard Corp's addition to the European Union's list of terror organizations.

Netanyahu was accompanied on his trip by Israel’s national security adviser Tzachi Hanegbi, who met with his French counterpart Emmanuel Bonne during the visit. Under the former government, the Israeli and French national advisers had agreed to hold an annual dialogue, but it did not happen because of the pandemic. 

A senior Israeli diplomatic source said Friday that the recent demonstrations in Iran have exposed the brutal nature of the regime in Tehran. The source commented that the Iranian nuclear issue is evolving, with Iran's nuclear capabilities rapidly approaching the nuclear threshold. These changes were why the meeting with Macron was necessary at this point in time, a second public visit abroad by the prime minister after his visit to Amman at the end of January.

Of note, Netanyahu has not yet traveled publicly to the United Arab Emirates, despite saying it would be his first visit abroad since returning to power.

A statement issued Thursday night by the Elysée Palace after the meeting noted that Macron reiterated his concerns over Iran's lack of transparency with the International Atomic Energy Agency. Both leaders reportedly expressed their strong concerns over the policies of Iran that destabilize the region. The French president recalled that Iranian support for Russian aggression in Ukraine brought Tehran sanctions and isolation.

Netanyahu also addressed efforts to advance Israeli relations with Saudi Arabia.

"I explained that I continue advancing regional peace in concrete ways. President Macron asked me about [peace with] Saudi Arabia. I said that this is a possibility, but it depends of course on the Saudis. In the end, peace with Saudi Arabia would contribute to peace between Israel and the Palestinians," he said.

The Saudi government reiterated this month that any normalization with Israel would only come after an agreement with the Palestinians is reached. 

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