Mr. Lapid was appointed Israeli Prime Minister on Friday as part of a power-sharing agreement with Naftali Bennett providing in particular for a rotation as Prime Minister in the event of the dissolution of the Knesset, the Parliament.
In recent weeks, their coalition had lost its majority, catalyzing the dissolution of Parliament, the calling of elections in November, and therefore the accession to the highest steps of power for Yair Lapid.
The latter must ensure the interim until the formation of the next government.
The day after it came to power, Israel was confronted with three drones from the Lebanese Shiite movement Hezbollah, an ally of Iran, the sworn enemy of the Jewish state.
The drones were shot down as they headed for the Karish gas field in the “Israeli” maritime zone in the eastern Mediterranean.
“Hezbollah continues on the path of terrorism and undermines Lebanon’s ability to reach an agreement on the maritime border”, commented this weekend Mr. Lapid, who maintained the visit to France initially planned for his predecessor Naftali Bennett .
– Paris before Biden –
This visit comes before the visit next week to Israel, the occupied West Bank and Saudi Arabia by US President Joe Biden, as part of his first tour of the Middle East since arriving at the White House.
Lebanon and Israel, two neighboring countries officially still in a state of war, began unprecedented negotiations in October 2020 under the aegis of Washington to delimit their maritime border, in order to remove obstacles to hydrocarbon prospecting.
But talks were suspended in May 2021 due to disputes over the surface of the disputed area, including the Karish gas field.
“We know the importance of France’s position on issues related to Lebanon and we are going to ask France to intervene to maintain the negotiations that we want to lead to the end on gas issues,” said a senior official. Israeli official to a small group of reporters, including AFP, traveling Tuesday with Mr. Lapid.
Israel signed an agreement in mid-June to deliver natural gas to Egypt, which plans to liquefy it for shipment to Europe.
The Old Continent is indeed seeking to diversify its energy supplies after Russia’s decision to cut off its gas supplies to European countries.
And in this context, the Jewish state says it wants to ensure gas peace in the eastern Mediterranean, where the discovery and exploitation of gas fields over the past decade has fueled border disputes.
“The question of Lebanon is essential and Mr. Lapid will come back to the Israeli position according to which Hezbollah is above all a threat to the future of Lebanon”, added this senior Israeli official requesting anonymity.
In addition to Hezbollah, Iran should be on the menu of Macron-Lapid exchanges, the Hebrew state trying to convince Western powers not to renew the agreement governing the Iranian nuclear program (JCPOA) in exchange for the lifting of sanctions.
Israeli officials fear that Iran will acquire nuclear weapons, which Tehran denies.
They also fear that the lifting of sanctions will allow the Islamic Republic to replenish its coffers to increase its aid to its allies on Israel’s borders such as the Lebanese Hezbollah or the Palestinian Hamas.
As Prime Minister, Naftali Bennett had advocated the “octopus doctrine” against Iran, saying he wanted to undermine Tehran directly rather than just its “tentacles” in the region.
In succeeding him, Mr. Lapid pledged to “do everything in his power” to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons or “taking root at the borders” of Israel.