France will one day recognize west Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, but only within the context of a two-state solution to the conflict with the Palestinians, President Emmanuel Macron said in Paris on Wednesday night.
“Jerusalem will eventually be recognized as the capital of Israel and Palestine,” Macron told members of CRIF, the umbrella organization of French Jewish organizations. “But it must happen at the right time.”
France was one of 14 out of 15 UN Security Council members that voted to condemn President Donald Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and relocate the US Embassy there.
Macron’s position is in step with the European Union, which is withholding recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of both Israel and a possible future Palestinian state until both sides approve of a final-status agreement, and not extending recognizing as a unilateral policy gesture.
In the interim, France, like the EU, considers east Jerusalem to be part of “occupied Palestine,” but has not recognized west Jerusalem as being part of Israel.
Macron defended his stance, explaining in his speech at a CRIF dinner that recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital by the US “has not helped resolve the conflict.”
“If France followed this path, she would lose her role as [a neutral] facilitator, which is the useful role for this region,” he said.
France sees itself as an interlocutor between Israelis and Palestinians. In 2016, it hosted a conference to boost international support for a two-state solution based on pre-1967 lines.
Macron also tackled the issue of French antisemitism on Wednesday night, telling the audience that France is proud to have Jewish citizens and will never accept any wrong done to them because of their faith.
“The French Republic protects all of its citizens equally,” he said, adding that antisemitism runs counter to the republic’s values and “dishonors France.”
Macron said it would nevertheless be a mistake to think antisemitism in France has diminished, adding the response to that prejudice must be relentless.
"In the same way racism has continued to sap our society like gangrene for decades, we have understood with dread that anti-Semitism was still alive,” Macron said.
He condemned efforts to boycott Israeli or Jewish products and pledged to work against hate speech on the internet by pushing for new EU laws to force social media companies to remove such language from their sites.
"This year, we wish to wage a fight at a European level to bring about new laws to force these operators (social media giants) to remove such content (hate speech) and build the judicial framework to define the responsibility of these platforms and those who broadcast these messages,” Macron said.
“We must never falter, we will never falter, in our denunciation of antisemitism and in our fight against this scourge,” he told the crowd.
Reuters contributed to this report.