Israel's caretaker prime minister Yair Lapid.

Israel's caretaker prime minister Yair Lapid

Israeli PM To Press France On Iran, During Trip To Paris


Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid will press French President Emmanuel Macron to be tough on the Iranian nuclear negotiations, during his trip to Paris Tuesday.

He will also tell Macron that the Tehran-backed Hezbollah group is "playing with fire", Reuters quoted an official as saying.

Lapid's visit to France, his first abroad since becoming caretaker premier last week, is also a chance to flex diplomatic muscles as Israelis gear up for a snap election in November.

France is among world powers trying to revive a 2015 nuclear deal, the JCPOA, with Iran that the previous US administration quit, and which Israel opposed, deeming its caps insufficient.

"The French are very, very active on the Iranian issue," a senior Israeli official told reporters.

"It is important for us to make our case ... Israel opposes a return to the JCPOA (2015 nuclear deal). In the same breath, we do not oppose a deal. We seek a very strong deal."

Israel is not a party to the nuclear negotiations. But Western capitals have been attentive to its concerns about its arch-enemy and worried it might take pre-emptive military action if it deems diplomacy a dead end.

"We want an end to the unending talks," said the senior Israeli official, calling for "coordinated pressure" on Iran and offering help on "drafting an appropriate framework" for that.

On Saturday Israel shot down three Hezbollah drones launched toward one of its Mediterranean gas rigs.

The Karish rig near Lebanon's coast will produce gas not only for Israel, but eventually also for the European Union, the official said, tapping into EU countries' quest to replace Russia as an energy supplier since it invaded Ukraine.

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