Oct. 24—French President called for a revival of peace talks in the Middle East and said Palestinian statehood would also benefit Israeli security.
“Israel can’t have lasting security without a decisive revival of the political process with the Palestinians,” Macron told reporters alongside Prime Minister in Jerusalem.
The stability of the region and the return to normal will only be guaranteed if part of Israel’s response is political “by accepting the legitimate right of the Palestinians to have a territory and a state in peace and in security next to Israel, because it will have integrated the existence and security of Israel as a pre-condition,” he added.
The French leader said he was ready for the international coalition against Islamic State to turn its focus to Hamas.
“The priority — your priority, but also that of all democracies and of France — is to defeat these terrorist groups with you,” Macron said, following a meeting with French citizens whose relatives have been killed or taken hostage by Hamas.
Macron, who is due to meet later on Tuesday with the president of the Palestinian Authority, , also warned Iranian-backed militant groups including Hezbollah not to open new fronts in the war.
The idea of establishing an independent Palestinian state comprising Gaza and the West Bank has been a focus of on-and-off peace talks for more than 20 years and the status of the West Bank has long been a flashpoint between the Israelis and the Palestinians, who make up the majority of the 3 million population in the territory.
The West Bank cities are governed by the Palestinian Authority run by President Abbas, although the Israeli military has held control over the entire area since 1967, and more than half of the territory contains dozens of Israeli settlements.
Many Israelis support the idea of extending Israeli sovereignty to at least part of the West Bank, where Israeli settlement-building has continued. Supporters of annexation say Israelis have a right to remain permanently in the West Bank, which they call by its biblical name of Judea and Samaria — the cradle of Jewish civilization.
In 2005, Israel removed 9,000 settlers from Gaza along with all its troops and handed the area over to the Palestinian Authority. Two years later, in a brief civil war, Hamas threw the authority out and took control of the Strip. Hamas rejects Israel’s existence and Israelis fear that if they pull out entirely from the West Bank, Hamas will take over there as well, posing a serious threat to the country.
The French president’s visit follows similar efforts by U.S. President Joe Biden, and the leaders of Germany and the U.K., and adds to a flurry of diplomatic activity by world leaders trying to contain the war between Israel and Islamist militant group Hamas, which is designated a terrorist organization by the U.S and the E.U.
Since Hamas attacked Israel from Gaza on Oct. 7, Israeli armed forces have imposed a siege on Gaza and launched hundreds of air strikes on the territory, vowing to destroy Hamas.
During the statement to the press, Netanyahu said Hamas poses a threat to Europe.
“If Hamas emerges victorious, we will all lose. Europe will be endangered. Everyone will be endangered. Civilization will be endangered,” he said. “If Hamas loses and is defeated, then the forces of civilization win.”
—With assistance from Ania Nussbaum, Ethan Bronner and Alisa Odenheimer
© 2023 Bloomberg L.P. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.
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