PM to attend ceremony and Paris Peace Forum; Trump cancels participation in ceremony, criticizes Macron’s call for EU army; Netanyahu: I, as usual, will represent the State of Israel with great pride.
Prime Minister Netanyahu left for Paris Sunday morning to participate in the ceremony commemorating the centennial of the armistice ending World War I.
Over 70 world leaders are to participate in the ceremony following French President Emmanuel Macron’s address at the Arc de Triomphe. Many of the leaders will then participate in the Paris Peace Forum, a three day event centered on “tackling global challenges and ensuring durable peace”.
Prime Minister Netanyahu spoke to the press before boarding his flight, stating “We are departing to a very important ceremony to mark the centennial of the end of World War I, a bloody war, which claimed the lives of millions. It was also very important to the history of our people. First of all, the fact that there were hundreds of thousands of Jewish fighters, which marked the next turning point in our ability to defend ourselves, and, of course it brought to an end the Ottoman Empire that ruled our land, and paved the way for Zionism.”
He confirmed he will hold meetings with world leaders, including President Macron, stating “I will meet dozens of leaders from around the world, and I will have a separate meeting with President Macron. There are many important issues that need to be discussed, but the very essence of being there is important. I, as usual, will represent the State of Israel with great pride.”
Mixed media reports on a possible meeting between Netanyahu with Russian President Vladmir Putin have been ongoing. A meeting was reportedly scheduled between the leaders, but cancelled due to tensions. Neither of the leaders have confirmed or denied a possible meeting in France.
Last week, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov again criticized Israel following the accidental downing of the Russian surveillance plane in September. He claimed “We warned the Israelis through all means and at the highest level that such behavior could have tragic consequences… At the same time, we have emphasized that military operations contribute to rising regional tension and cannot solve the security problems that concern Israel.” He also claimed that Israel had violated its “commitments” in notifying Russia of any military action in Syria, claiming Israel on “several occasions [has] put the lives of our military personnel in Syria in danger,” referring to the attack in Palmyra in March 2017.
The IDF has been clear that Iran’s entrenchment in Syria and the transfer of weapons to its proxies and Hezbollah are red lines. The IDF also recently confirmed that it carried out over 200 airstrikes on Iranian and terror targets in Syria, firing over 800 missiles and mortar shells in the past year.
President Trump announced he would not be attending the ceremony due to weather restrictions over the weekend. Ahead of his cancellation, he criticized Macron’s calls for a “joint European Union military force”. Last week the French president again called for a European army, claiming “We have to protect ourselves with respect to China, Russia and even the United States of America.” Trump responded on Twitter, stating “President Macron of France has just suggested that Europe build its own military in order to protect itself from the U.S., China and Russia. Very insulting, but perhaps Europe should first pay its fair share of NATO, which the U.S. subsidizes greatly!”
Following the ceremony, Netanyahu will attend the Paris Peace Forum. The forum will be attended by world leaders as well as “international organizations, local governments, NGO’s and foundations, companies, experts, journalists, trade unions, religious groups and citizens”.
Photo: Alexandros Michailidis/Shutterstock.com