newsIsrael at War

France threatens sanctions unless Israel ups Gaza aid

In February, France banned 28 Israelis from entering the European country, accusing them of attacking Arabs in Judea and Samaria.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu hosts French Foreign Minister Stéphane Séjourné in Jerusalem, Feb. 5, 2023. Photo by Haim Zach/GPO.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu hosts French Foreign Minister Stéphane Séjourné in Jerusalem, Feb. 5, 2023. Photo by Haim Zach/GPO.

French Foreign Minister Stéphane Séjourné warned on Tuesday that Paris could sanction Israel unless more aid starts passing into the Gaza Strip.

“There must be levers of influence, and there are multiple levers, going up to sanctions, to let humanitarian aid cross checkpoints,” Séjourné told RFI radio and France 24 television, according to Reuters.

“France was one of the first countries to propose European Union sanctions on Israeli settlers who are committing acts of violence in the West Bank. We will continue if needed to obtain the opening of humanitarian aid,” he added.

Israeli authorities on Monday reported the highest number of humanitarian aid trucks entering Gaza in a single day since the start of the war over six months ago.

According to the Israeli Defense Ministry’s Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT) unit, 419 aid trucks were inspected and transferred to the Strip, up from the previous high of 322 on Sunday.

In February, France banned 28 Israelis from entering the European country, accusing them of attacking Arabs in Judea and Samaria.

“Settlement activity is illegal under international law and must stop. Its continuation is incompatible with the creation of a viable Palestinian State,” according to a statement from Paris at the time.

One day earlier, the United Kingdom announced similar measures.

On Feb 1., U.S. President Joe Biden issued an executive order sanctioning “persons undermining peace, security and stability in the West Bank,” citing “high levels of extremist settler violence, forced displacement of people and villages and property destruction.”

Last month, French President Emmanuel Macron said that the forcible transfer of Gazans from Rafah ahead of a prospective Israeli military operation in the city would constitute a “war crime,” according to Agence France-Presse.

In November, Macron claimed during a BBC interview that Israel was killing women and children in Gaza.

“De facto—today civilians are being bombed. These babies, these women, these old people are being bombed and killed. So there is no reason for it and no legitimacy. So we do plead with Israel to stop,” the French leader said.

The remarks drew condemnation from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who said that Macron “made a serious mistake, factually and morally” and that “the responsibility for any harm to civilians lies with Hamas-ISIS and not with Israel.”

French Jews were targeted by a major wave of antisemitism in the wake of Hamas’s Oct. 7 massacre.

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