Jewish and Israeli groups welcome Emmanuel Macron’s victory in France
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Jewish and Israeli groups welcome Emmanuel Macron’s victory in France

The president won re-election with 58% of the vote, defeating his far-right rival Marine le Pen

Emmanuel Macron was re-elected president of France on Sunday
Emmanuel Macron was re-elected president of France on Sunday

Israeli and Jewish leaders have welcomed Emmanuel Macron’s re-election and far-right leader Marine le Pen’s defeat in the second round of Sunday’s presidential election in France.

Macron took 58% of the vote against Le Pen’s 42%, according to provisional figures released by authorities overnight.

The contest, which was a re-run of the 2017 election, saw Le Pen markedly increase her share of the vote from the 33% she received five years ago.

Francis Kalifat, the head of the French Jewish umbrella body Crif, said it was “a relief to see that Marine Le Pen was blocked from reaching power – but this time we were seriously worried.”

He told Haaretz: “We were concerned because some people, like [far-left presidential candidate] Jean-Luc Mélenchon, who got 22 percent in the first round of voting, had made ambiguous statements, refusing to call on their supporters to vote for Macron.”

Ahead of the election Crif had endorsed Macron and issued a public call urging all French citizens to vote against Le Pen.

Israeli prime minister Naftali Bennett congratulated Macron in a tweet on Monday in which he said “under your leadership, I have no doubt that the ties between Israel and France will continue to grow stronger.”

Foreign Minister Yair Lapid tweeted a picture of himself embracing Macron, describing the French president as “my good friend”.

“President Macron is an important leader of the global centre and a true friend of Israel. We’ll continue to work together to strengthen cooperation between our countries,” Lapid wrote.

Rabbi Pinchas Goldschmidt from the Conference of European Rabbis said: “Congratulations to President Macron on his re-election. However, the fact that more than 40% voted for a far-right candidate is troubling.”

The European Jewish Congress extended “warm congratulations” to Macron in a statement.

“President Macron’s win is a victory for sane and moderate politics,” said Ariel Muzicant, the group’s new president. “Today, mainstream and healthy democratic politics again defeated extremism and division.”

Eric Zemmour, a Jewish far-right candidate in the contest who did not make it to the second and final round Sunday, called for unity among supporters of the French right to win future elections.

“There will be no victory without alliances between all the parts of the right-wing bloc,” said Zemmour, who had called on his supporters to vote for Le Pen.

Le Pen’s father Jean-Marie, who founded the National Front in the 1980s, is a Holocaust denier with a long record of making antisemitic statements.

Marine Le Pen succeeded him in 2011 and ejected him from the party, which she renamed National Rally, several years later. She had promised to be a “shield” for Jews against radical Islam.

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