French PM cancels visit, cites ‘domestic’ reasons

French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe on Wednesday canceled a planned two-day trip to Israel next week, with his office attributing the cancellation to “domestic” issues he needs to tend to.

Philippe was scheduled to arrive on May 31 to take part in the launch of a French-Israel cultural event called the Season of Culture to mark 70 years of diplomatic ties between the two countries. The season features 400 different events in Israel and France over the next six months spanning a wide array of spheres, from cinema to literature, science and innovation.

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Among the domestic issues on Philippe’s agenda are a number of strikes on the horizon. His aides pointed out that he canceled a trip to Mali last month.

Nevertheless, some were linking the cancellation to the recent events in Gaza, with French President Emmanuel Macron having condemned the violence without specifically blaming any side, and to French unhappiness at US President Donald Trump’s withdrawal – loudly cheered by Israel – from the Iranian nuclear agreement.

Israel’s Foreign Ministry, however, cited only the domestic reasons given by Philippe’s office as the reason for the cancellation. Philippe was also scheduled to visit Ramallah during his trip.

Netanyahu is slated to go to Paris on June 5 to launch the Season of Culture there and meet with Macron.