Four Days Before Israeli Election, Netanyahu Rival Lapid Meets Macron in France

Kahol Lavan party says the two discussed recent developments in Syria, Iran and the situation in Gaza

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Emmanuel Macron and Yair Lapid speak in Paris on April 5, 2019.
Emmanuel Macron and Yair Lapid speak in Paris on April 5, 2019.

Kahol Lavan co-chairman Yair Lapid met with French President Emmanuel Macron in Paris on Friday, four days before the general election. 

According to a Kahol Lavan statement, the two discussed regional issues, including recent developments in Syria, Iran, the situation in Gaza, Lebanon. They also spoke about "the rising tide of anti-Semitism in Europe and the immediate need to deal with it," the party said. 

Macron said in February that he would have his country adopt a definition of anti-Semitism that mentions hatred of Israel. The announcement came after French authorities reported a 74 percent increase in anti-Semitic incidents in 2018 over the previous year.

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Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu visited the French leader last June, holding a 90-minute long meeting on Iran's growing influence in the region, the 2015 nuclear deal and the relocation of the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem. Macron said France shared Israel's concerns about Iran, but stressed the important of the deal – an agreement Netanyahu is vehemently opposed to. 

Netanyahu and Lapid, together with his political ally, former army chief Benny Gantz, are heading for a face-off on April 9, when Israelis go to the polls to vote in the general election. A survey published by Israeli daily Yedioth Ahronoth on Friday saw Kahol Lavan, Netanyahu's main rival, taking a slight lead over the ruling party, Likud, with 27 seats to 30. 

Nevertheless, the newly-formed slate would have difficulty forming a coalition as left-wing, center-left and Arab-majority parties would scrape together a mere 57 seats compared to the right-wing bloc's 63.