Photo by: Amos Ben Gershom (GPO)

President Isaac Herzog today, Monday, met at the President’s Residence in Jerusalem, with President of France, Emmanuel Macron, who was paying a solidarity visit to Israel following the barbaric terror attack carried out by Hamas on October 7.

Ahead of their meeting, President Herzog said, “Good morning Mr. President. thank you for coming to Israel in these very trying times. Israel is are mourning, Israel is bereaving with major pain we have never suffered as a nation since our establishment and we’ve suffered a lot of pain throughout our history. I see families day in day out, who are bereaving, pained, crying, emotionally suffering so much, and the entire nation is suffering with them. But we are a strong nation, and we are committed to overcome and we are committed to destroying our enemies.

“The situation though is extremely complicated and fragile. On the one hand, we are demanding the full and immediate release of all of our citizens who are abducted and hijacked – the immediate release – as we have seen clear crimes against humanity. We are seeing the suffering of you young and old, thirty children Mr. President, thirty children are out there, kidnapped by Hamas terrorists who carried out carried out one of the worst atrocities in modern times.

“And I know I’ve heard your expressions – we’ve spoken quite often in the last two weeks – I know how much you care for our nation and your visit here is a clear expression of solidarity. I know you met families of the hijacked and kidnap people.

“And I know that you share with me the same feeling. There’s no difference, none at all – and I’ve said it to the families themselves – between an Israeli citizen or anyone who holds another citizenship parallel to Israeli citizenship, at the end all Israelis are one, soldiers, citizens, and foreign nationals. They’re all one and for us, we want them back immediately.

“We are following very closely the situation in Lebanon. I think Hezbollah is playing with fire. I think the Iranian empire of evil that is backing them and operates day in day out to destabilize the Middle East, and the region is playing with fire. And I want to make clear we are not looking for a confrontation on northern border or with anyone else. We’re focused on destroying Hamas’s infrastructure and bringing our citizens back home. But if Hezbollah will drag us into war, it should be clear that Lebanon will pay the price. Lebanon cannot be a sovereign member of the international community with its citizens carrying a Lebanese passport but when it comes to attacking Israel they’re not responsible. We don’t see it that way. Not whatsoever and by international law we have the full right to defend ourselves.

“And finally, Mr. President, like you, we are extremely worried and disturbed as to the immense rise of antisemitism around the world. Also in your country. We care for our brothers and sisters of Jewish communities all over the world, for their well-being and safety. And I think the international community must take strong actions to protect the Jewish citizens all over the world. Thank you for coming to Israel and sharing your support with us.”

President Macron thanked the President and expressed his deep sorrow for the heavy loss of life Israel had suffered, and his hopes that the hostages would soon be released. He said, “Thank you Mr. President, thank you for your words. Let me tell you that if I’m here with my delegation, it is indeed first to express our support and solidarity, we share your pain. What happened on the 7th of October was an awful terror attack against your people, your nation, its right. And it caused immense shock for the whole planet, especially in France. I am here to express our solidarity today and tomorrow.

“I spent a while with some families of the nationals, I saw some families having lost children, brothers, and some other families waiting for hostages. I do share your view, the first objective we should have today is the release of all hostages without any distinction, because this is an awful crime to play with the lives of children, adults, all people, civilians and soldiers. But I want you to be sure that you are not left alone in this war against terrorism, because I speak here on behalf of a country which experienced these terrorist attacks, unhappily, and you were there at that time. And I think it is our duty to fight against these terrorist groups, without any confusion, without I would say, enlarging this conflict, and I share the warnings you passed, but targeting clearly these terrorist groups, organizing targeted operations is a necessity.

“I want you to be sure, that we stand shoulder to shoulder with you and your nation, and we will do whatever we can to restore peace, security, and stability for your country and the whole region.

“This is why we passed several messages too to other potential terrorist groups, targeting or wanting to join this operation, and clearly we warned Hezbollah, we passed very clear messages, and we start discussing together, we will discuss now, and I will discuss with Prime Minister Netanyahu, we have a lot of things to do together. What happened will never be forgotten to be sure. And we will be here today, tomorrow, and the day after, for peace and stability. These people were killed just because they were Jewish and they wanted to live in peace.”