Following are Prime Minister Yair Lapid's remarks with French President Emmanuel Macron, at the Elysee Palace in Paris, today (Tuesday, 5 July 2022):
"Thank you Mr. President, Emmanuel,
It is a true pleasure for me that my first official visit as Prime Minister of Israel is to a country that is a close friend — and with a President who is a close friend.
I thank you for the warm welcome, for your support and friendship over the years. And I thank you for your firm stance against antisemitism in France and around the world.
France has taught the world that liberté and égalité cannot exist without fraternité.
Our friendship is based on values and on the understanding that values are worth fighting for.
This past year, with the war in Ukraine and the terrorism from Iran, we are reminded that not only does democracy protect us, but we must also protect democracy.
Sometimes there is no choice but to use the force of war to protect peace.
Israel and France are more than just friends — we are strategic partners.
We have a host of economic and defense cooperations, and together we are determined to expand and develop them, especially in the technological spheres.
Not only is France a leading country in Europe, but it is also one of the E3 countries, leading the negotiations with Iran on the nuclear deal.
We may have disagreements about the content of the agreement, but we do not disagree on the facts.
The facts are that Iran is violating the agreement and continues to develop its nuclear program.
Iran is hiding information from the world, it is enriching uranium beyond the level it is allowed to, and it has removed cameras from its nuclear sites.
Given all this, the world must respond.
Back in 2018, you were the first world leader to talk about the need for a new deal with Iran.
A deal that is more efficient and better defined, a deal with no expiration date, a deal with coordinated international pressure that would prevent Iran from becoming a nuclear threshold state.
You were right then, and you are even more right today.
The current situation cannot continue as it is.
It will lead to a nuclear arms race in the Middle East, which would threaten world peace.
We must all work together to stop that from happening.
Any place that terrorism is found, Iran is never far away.
Just recently, the Turkish government exposed Iranian cells that planned to murder innocent Israeli tourists in Istanbul.
A few days ago, Iranian-made UAVs tried to attack an Israeli gas rig near the Lebanese coast.
These UAVs were sent by Hezbollah, a terrorist organization that threatens Lebanon’s stability, violates its sovereignty, pushes it towards a dangerous escalation with Israel, and harms the national interests of Lebanon — a country I know is dear to your heart.
Hezbollah has more than one hundred thousand rockets in Lebanon, aimed at Israel.
It tries to attack us with Iranian rockets and UAVs. Israel will not sit back and do nothing, given these repeated attacks.
My friend, I don’t want our dialogue to only revolve around risks and threats.
Israel and France are dealing with this period in a similar way:
We are strengthening entrepreneurship, innovation and technology, and the ability of young people to break boundaries.
I thank you, my friend, for your kindness and friendship, and look forward to continuing to work together for the benefit of both our countries.