PM Netanyahu waves as he arrives at the Elysee Palace in Paris. (AP/Christophe Ena) (AP/Christophe Ena)
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“The way in which we were received is very significant,” Netanyahu said of his meetings in Paris during the WW1 centenary event, before cutting his trip short due to the escalated violence at the Gaza border.

By: Max Gelber, United with Israel

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday attended a joint lunch of world leaders hosted by French President Emmanuel Macron at the Elysee Palace in Paris, during which he was treated like a world-class leader.

The world leaders convened to mark the 100th anniversary of the end of World War I.

During the events, Netanyahu spoke with a number of senior leaders, including US President Donald Trump, Russian President Vladimir Putin and German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

Speaking to reporters later on, Netanyahu stated that he was “very proud that I came to represent the state of Israel in this important event.”

“I think that there is no better evidence of the state of Israel’s standing in the world than the way we were accepted in this event, from the place we received, literally, in the first line of countries. I see this as a great compliment to the State of Israel and its achievements,” he stated.

Speaking of his meetings with “many leaders” during the lunch event, he said that “almost all” of them expressed interest in strengthening ties with Israel. Many approached the Israeli leader in the morning before the ceremony and then at lunch.

“Some of the conversations were short while others were longer and extended. They want to strengthen the political, economic, and technological and security ties with the State of Israel,” he stated.

Concerning his meetings with Trump and Putin, he said, “I think these things are important to the state of Israel and to our national interests.”

“The way in which we were received is very significant,” he underscored.

‘Israel is a Rising Force in the World’

During lunch, Netanyahu sat with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, alongside the President of Italy Sergio Mattarella and Sir Peter Cosgrove, the Governor General of Australia.

However, he said that “what was very interesting was a number of African leaders who spoke about the importance of cooperation with Israel and the way it could, of course, help their countries. I heard this from countries in Eastern Europe, Western European countries, African countries, Latin America, leaders who came and spoke without question that Israel is a rising force in the world.”

“If someone needed proof, I would say – come to Paris,” he concluded.

In his address to AIPAC in March 2016, Netanyahu observed that Israel has “diplomatic relations with 161 countries, more than at any time in our history.”

“Israel is facing many challenges but while doing so is also “acquiring friends around the world and within the region here,” Netanyahu stated in September at a toast for Rosh Hashana, the Jewish New Year, with Prime Minister’s Office personnel. He noted that “we live in a challenging area – and we are equal to the task.”

They see our strength and they see our commitment to defend our state, to develop it, and become an economic, technological, military and intelligence power, and this brings us friends,” he explained.

Netanyahu was forced to cut his trip in Europe short following the violent clash between IDF Special Forces and a Hamas unit inside Gaza on Sunday night. The situation has since escalated.

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