The relationship between Israel and Marine Le Pen

Once the FN has been legitimized in France, Israel’s attitude toward it may well become an increasingly marginal consideration.

By Manfred Gerstenfeld
March 28, 2017

The upcoming French presidential elections once again raise for Israel the issue of how to relate to European populist parties.

This the more so when they become major forces and Israel needs their support, for instance in the European Parliament. As these parties are often nationalists, Israeli attitudes have to be individually determined for each country. The polls of the past few months consistently show that Marine Le Pen, the leader of the rightwing FN party in France, will be one of the two leading candidates in the first round on April 23 that will contest the presidency in the final round on May 7.

The polls predict about 25% of the votes for both Le Pen and the independent candidate Emmanuel Macron in the first round. Polls indicate that on May 7 Macron will be elected by well over 60%, while Le Pen is likely to receive over 35%. If as many people vote in the upcoming elections as in the first round in 2012, Le Pen would receive over nine million votes in the first and in the second round at least 13 million. This is a huge increase compared to 2012 when Le Pen received seven million votes and did not pass the first round.

On two occasions in recent years senior representatives of the FN have visited Israel. Louis Alliot, a senior vice president and partner of Marine Le Pen came in 2011. FN secretary-general Nicolas Bay visited early this year.

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Bay met with Health Minister Ya’acov Litzman, who afterwards said that he did not know exactly who he had met.

The parameters of the attitudes of the Israeli government concerning meetings with populists – or, as the saying is, “declare them kosher” – seems to be the following: first, avoid parties which were originally fascist.