The Middle East since Babylonian times has consistently been a culturally rich region where much of the knowledge that still persists today was erected. However, on the other side of the coin, the region has also been and remains a powder keg where conflicts are constantly flaring up. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met with the president of France, business leaders and members of the French-Jewish community during a trip to Paris that began on Thursday and has angered Palestinian parties amid the new outbreak of violence in the region. The meeting took place in the evening.
The Israeli diplomat's official visit will last until Sunday. It began with a working dinner at the Elysee Palace, where French President Emmanuel Macron's office said he planned to share France's "solidarity with Israel in the face of terrorism", but also to stress "the need for all to avoid measures that could fuel the spiral of violence". Similarly, Palestinian activists are planning a protest in Paris on Saturday to censure Macron's decision to receive Netanyahu at such a volatile time in the Middle East conflict.
Demonstrators say they will also protest prison conditions in Israel for Palestinian militants, including solitary confinement and limits on family visits. On his trip to France, Netanyahu said Iran and its nuclear programme would be "the main topic of our conversation" when he meets Macron. Netanyahu vowed to take a hard line against the Palestinians and increase settlement building in the West Bank. His executive is also making major changes to Israel's judicial system, which have been widely opposed.
Macron has rebuked Iran's lack of transparency about its nuclear activities and warned that its support for Russia's war in Ukraine will present Iran with new sanctions and increasing isolation. Netanyahu's trip comes during one of the deadliest periods of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in years. An Israeli military raid last week killed 10 Palestinians, mostly militants, but also a 61-year-old woman. A day later, a Palestinian shooting outside a synagogue in East Jerusalem killed seven people, including a 14-year-old teenager. Offensives have spread to the Gaza Strip.
Ahead of Netanyahu's arrival in Paris, Israeli aircraft struck a rocket-making workshop in the Gaza Strip early on Thursday, the Israeli army said, hours after Palestinian militants fired a rocket into Israel. Drone strikes targeted an Iranian Defence Ministry facility in the city of Esfahan in the early hours of Saturday morning. This military complex is a production centre for drones and missiles, many of which are sent to terrorist groups consonant with Iran in the Middle East or to the Russian military during the war in Ukraine, as well as an ammunition depot.
The Iranian authorities, who continue to investigate the incident, have not yet accused any country of responsibility for the explosion. In addition to the attack on the Isfahan plant, a fire broke out at an oil refinery in the city of Tabriz. That is why Macron and Netanyahu spoke on Sunday after the deadly shooting of Palestinians outside a synagogue in Jerusalem. Recall that Netanyahu was installed as Israel's president by ultra-nationalist parties that promised to take a hard line against Palestinians and increase settlement construction in the West Bank. Overall, the Arab-Israeli conflict is likely to return this year thanks to Netanyahu's new coalition government.