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The New Arab Staff

In France visit, Israel's Rivlin looks for ally on Iran, ICC

Israeli President Reuven Rivlin met his French counterpart, Emmanuel Macron [Getty]

Date of publication: 19 March, 2021

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France is aiming to bring the US and Iran to the negotiating table to revive a landmark nuclear deal that Israel fiercely opposes.

Israeli President Reuven Rivlin met his French counterpart on Thursday on the final leg of a tri-state mission to persuade key European states to take a stand against Iran’s nuclear aspirations and the International Criminal Court (ICC) decision to investigate Israel for alleged war crimes.

France, along with Britain, Germany and the EU, is aiming to bring the US and Iran to the negotiating table to revive a landmark nuclear deal, also known as the JCPOA, that was reversed by former US President Donald Trump in 2018. 

The administration of US President Joe Biden has indicated it is prepared to re-enter the nuclear deal and start lifting economic sanctions if Iran returns to full compliance with the deal.

Iran has indicated that it will respond to positive US gestures, but has yet to respond to an offer of talks with the US and European powers.

Speaking alongside Rivlin, French President Emmanuel Macron said “Iran must stop aggravating a serious nuclear situation with an accumulation of violations of the Vienna Accord,” referring to the 2015 nuclear deal.

“France is fully mobilized to relaunch of a credible process to find a solution to this crisis,” Macron added. “This means returning to a control and supervision of the Iranian nuclear program while also integrating a control of Iran’s ballistic activity in the region.”

Rivlin, also spoke out against the ICC's decision to investigate potential war crimes committed by Israel in the West Bank and Gaza.  

“One of the most egregious consequences of the ICC’s decision is that it will make it even harder for Israelis and Palestinians to find common ground,” he said in an op-ed published by Le Figaro.

Palestinians have welcomed the ICC decision and the court's chief prosecutor, Fatou Bensouda, has said that the ICC will look into possible crimes committed since 2014 “independently, impartially and objectively, without fear or favour.”

In 2014, Israel launched a massive assault on the Hamas-run Gaza Strip, which lasted for seven weeks and killed hundreds of civilians.

Rivlin called on France and its European allies “to state clearly, once and for all, that the road to peace runs directly between Jerusalem and Ramallah. Detours via the ICC in the Hague and the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva are counter-productive to the cause of peace and undermine the chances of an agreement between us”, he wrote.

Read also: Behind Macron's faux issues lies an ugly reality 

The decision to open an investigation followed a preliminary examination undertaken by the ICC Office of the Prosecutor that lasted close to five years. In February, it was decided the court may exercise its criminal jurisdiction in the situation in Palestine and that the territorial scope of this jurisdiction extends to Gaza and the West Bank, including East Jerusalem.

Rivlin was accompanied on his French trip the Israeli army's chief of staff, General  Aviv Kohavi, who warned Macron of the threat that the Iran-backed Lebanese group Hezbollah poses to Israel.

France has recently played a prominent role in the international effort to see the implementation of reforms in Lebanon as the economic situation there deteriorates.

Rivlin declared that Israel  won’t “hesitate to strike Lebanon” if Hezbollah threatens the Israeli border.

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