Jerusalem, Oct 24 (EFE).- French President Emmanuel Macron on Tuesday proposed to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that the “international coalition” that fought the terrorist group Islamic State (IS) be extended to Hamas.
“Hamas is a terrorist group whose goal is the destruction of the State of Israel – it is also the case of the Islamic State, Al Qaeda and its partners, in action and in intention. Your priority, but also that of all democracies and of France, is to defeat these groups with you,” Macron said at a joint press conference with Netanyahu.
The French president told the Israeli leader that “you are not alone,” and proposed “a regional and international coalition to fight terrorist groups”.
“France is ready so that the international coalition against the Islamic State, of which we are part in our operation in Iraq and Syria, can also fight Hamas,” he said.
Macron explained that he had come to Israel to demonstrate France’s solidarity against what he called their common enemy – “terrorism” – and stressed “Israel’s legitimate right to defend itself” against the Islamist group Hamas, the Islamist group that governs the Gaza Strip.
Hamas militants on Oct. 7 launched an unprecedented attack on Israeli soil in which more than 1,400 people were killed and 222 others were kidnapped and taken to the Gaza Strip.
Israel has responded by heavily shelling the enclave, killing over 5,700 people, according to Palestinian health officials.
For his part, Netanyahu said that the whole world – not just Israel – would be in danger if Hamas prevails in the ongoing conflict.
“The test for the West, and for civilization, is Hamas,” Netanyahu said.
“If Hamas emerges victorious, we will all lose. Europe would be endangered, everyone would be endangered, civilization would be endangered (…) That is why this battle is not merely our own, it is Europe’s battle, it’s America’s battle, it’s civilization’s battle, it’s the battle for the heart and soul and the future of the Middle East and the Arab world”, he added.
In the 18 days since Hamas’ surprise attack, Israel has bombed the entire length of the Gaza Strip, where more than 5,700 people have been killed and 16,200 wounded, 70% of them children, women and the elderly.
“The fight must be without mercy, but not without rules,” warned Macron, stressing that democracies “respect the laws of war, guarantee humanitarian access and (…) do not target civilians, in Gaza or anywhere.”
He also advocated allowing the entry of more humanitarian aid and “restoring electricity in hospitals for the sick and wounded, without this electricity being used for war. We will cooperate in a very concrete way in this regard in the coming days,” he said.
The French president also spoke of the importance of resuming negotiations to find a lasting solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, through the creation of a Palestinian state.
“Israel’s security cannot be lasting without the decisive resumption of the political process with the Palestinians,” Macron said.
“Hamas is a terrorist group, so it does not embody the Palestinian cause; it must be fought with force and the Palestinian cause must be understood,” he added, stressing that the stability of the region “will not be guaranteed” unless Israel “accepts the legitimate right of Palestinians to have a territory and a state in peace and security next to Israel.”
Macron arrived Monday in Tel Aviv and also met with Israeli President Isaac Herzog.
He is scheduled to hold meetings with members of the opposition and relatives of victims.
In addition, he is expected to meet in Ramallah (in the occupied West Bank) with the president of the Palestinian National Authority, Mahmoud Abbas. EFE