France's Macron calls for international coalition to fight Hamas, no mention of loss of Palestinian lives

AFP , AP , Ahram Online , Tuesday 24 Oct 2023

French President Emmanuel Macron after speaking in Jerusalem with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that the international coalition fighting the Islamic State "should also fight against Hamas".

French President Emmanuel Macron (L) shakes hands with Israel s President Isaac Herzog after their t
French President Emmanuel Macron (L) shakes hands with Israel s President Isaac Herzog after their talks in Jerusalem on October 24, 2023. AFP


He compared the proposal to the international coalition fighting the Islamic State group in Iraq and Syria. He was referring to the Hezbollah in Lebanon, Iran itself and the Houtis in Yemen, among others, saying they must not take the risk of opening a new front.

Standing at the side of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Macron stressed Israel’s right to defend itself in its war with Hamas.

“The fight must be without mercy, but not without rules” because democracies “respect the rules of war,” Macron said, adding that for example democracies don’t target civilians. His statement appeared to be a message to Israel, which has been criticized for attacks that have killed Palestinian civilians in the Gaza Strip.

He called for access to aid for Gaza and for electricity to be supplied to Gaza hospitals — not for making war. However, Macron didn't offer sympathy or acknowledging the loss of Palestinian lives in the Israeli war on Gaza that killed more than 5,700 Palestinians, including 2,360 children.

Macron reiterated calls for a "decisive relaunch" of the Palestinian peace process following the current crisis, He said any peace “cannot be durable” without restarting a “decisive” political process with Palestinians. But he said, “Hamas does not (represent) the Palestinian cause.”

​The call comes as the French president arrived in Israel on Tuesday in "a solidarity visit" stressing, after meeting Israeli President Isaac Herzog, that saving captives held by Hamas in Gaza must be the "first objective" of the military campaign but stressed the need to stop the conflict spreading.

Macron said nine French people are missing, at least one has been confirmed to be among more than 220 people taken captives by Hamas gunmen.

France and Israel are "linked by grief" Macron said after earlier meeting the families of some of the French people killed or taken hostage in the worst attacks suffered by Israel.

"I want you to be sure that you're not left alone in this war against terrorism," Macron told Herzog, stressing attacks staged in France in recent years.

"I think this is our duty to fight against these terrorist groups, without any confusion, without I would say enlarging this conflict." 

With Hezbollah group daily trading artillery fire with the Israeli occupation army across the Lebanon-Israel border, Western governments are concerned the conflict could spread.

US President Joe Biden, British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz also raised that concern during visits to Israel over the past week.

Macron is expected to go to Ramallah to meet Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas during the crisis, the Palestinian Authority said.

In Jerusalem, the French head of state was also due to meet Israeli war cabinet member Benny Gantz and opposition leader Yair Lapid.

He is also expected to talk with King Abdullah of Jordan, Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi and Gulf leaders, his office said, without giving a timetable.

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