update deskIsrael at War

Netanyahu thanks France for ‘stalwart support’ against Hamas

Following a meeting in Jerusalem, French Foreign Minister Stéphane Séjourné called for a ceasefire in Gaza and establishing a Palestinian state.

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.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday thanked French Foreign Minister Stéphane Séjourné for his country’s “stalwart support” amid Israel’s war against the Hamas terrorist organization.

Ahead of a meeting in Jerusalem, Netanyahu commended Séjourné for the “consistent support that France took against the savagery from day one, your position on the ICJ [International Court of Justice] and this absurd accusation of genocide against Israel…and also the effort to help with humanitarian medical assistance, and, of course, our cooperation on the question of Lebanon.”

“We have a lot to talk about,” the premier told Paris’s top diplomat, according to Netanyahu’s office.

During the tête-à-tête, which was also attended by French Ambassador to Israel Frédéric Journès, Netanyahu asked that Séjourné convey the Jewish state’s “great appreciation” to French President Emmanuel Macron.

Under an agreement brokered by France and Qatar last month, Israel agreed to allow more goods, including medicine, into Gaza. Under the terms of the arrangement with Hamas, some of the drugs were supposed to go to the more than 100 hostages it is holding in the Strip.

Some three weeks after aid trucks entered Gaza, there has been no word on whether the terror group held up its part of the deal, and France is working “to get all elements of proof to know whether the medicines have been received” by the hostages, the AP reported on Monday.

Hamas murdered around 1,200 people, including 42 French citizens, in a massive attack launched from the Gaza Strip on Oct. 7, which included the firing of thousands of rockets and the infiltration of terrorist forces into Israel.

Paris is making final preparations for a national memorial ceremony marking the four-month anniversary of Hamas’s murderous attacks this week. Macron is expected to preside over the event at the Les Invalides monument in the capital city, Séjourné confirmed on Monday.

Macron will also pay homage to several citizens killed in Israel’s defensive campaign at “another time,” a senior official told the France 24 broadcaster, noting that “it is obvious that we owe the same emotion and the same dignity to the French victims of the bombings in Gaza.”

Speaking with journalists at the Israeli capital’s King David Hotel following the meeting with Netanyahu at his office, Séjourné called for an “immediate and sustainable ceasefire” in the Hamas-run coastal enclave, followed by the establishment of a Palestinian state.

“For four months now, Gazans are under bombing, besieged and deprived of basic aid…Nothing can justify such a tragedy,” Séjourné charged, according to Hebrew-language reports.

The diplomat also repeated widely disputed claims regarding a wave of Israeli “settler violence” targeting Palestinian civilians in Judea and Samaria, calling on political leaders in Jerusalem “to refrain from any action decision or statement that might spark violence.”

“After the atrocities of Oct. 7…no one thinks about rewarding terrorism here, but none of Israel’s friends can imagine handling the issue of the Palestinians without solving it, and this will happen via a Palestinian state,” Séjourné reportedly added.

Jerusalem has rejected attempts at imposing a long-term ceasefire that leaves Hamas in place and maintains that it will continue in its goal to eradicate the terrorist group in Gaza. The Israeli government also holds Hamas responsible for all civilian casualties.

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