France’s Macron says he stands in solidarity with Israel in fight against terrorism

France’s Macron says he stands in solidarity with Israel in fight against terrorism

TEL AVIV  (AP) :  France will stand in solidarity with Israel in its fight against terrorism, President Emmanuel Macron said on Tuesday as he met with his Israeli counterpart Isaac Herzog in Jerusalem.
“What happened will never be forgotten,” Macron said, referring an assault on Israel in which the militant group Hamas killed over 1,400 people. “I am here to express our solidarity.”

Macron arrived in Tel Aviv on Tuesday, more than two weeks after Hamas militants stormed into Israel from the Gaza Strip. The deadly October 7 attacks left 30 French citizens dead among the victims.

The French leader will also meet his Palestinian counterpart Mahmoud Abbas in Ramallah, the Palestinian leader’s office said.

Macron was due to meet Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to express France’s “full solidarity” with Israel after that attack, the French presidency said.

He was also expected to call for the “preservation of the civilian population” in Gaza, amid Israel’s relentless bombardment, and as it prepares for a ground invasion of the overcrowded Palestinian enclave.

More than 5,000 people, most of them women and children, have died during Israel’s attacks, according to numbers given by the Hamas-run health ministry.

Macron will in particular call for a “humanitarian truce” to allow desperately needed aid into Gaza, whose 2.4 million people have been largely deprived of water, food, electricity and other basic supplies after an Israeli blockade, the Elysee Palace said.

Macron and Netanyahu were due to hold a joint press conference at 1:00 p.m. (1000 GMT).

The French head of state was also due to meet Israeli President Isaac Herzog, as well as opposition leaders Benny Gantz and Yair Lapid in Jerusalem.

And in Tel Aviv, he was due to meet the families of French and French-Israeli nationals killed in the Hamas attack or being held hostage in Gaza.

Seven French citizens are still missing: one of them, a French woman, has been confirmed as among the more than 200 people Israel says were taken hostage by Hamas.

Macron has said the others are also thought to be hostages, but there has not yet been confirmation.

The French president also aims to continue efforts “to avoid a dangerous escalation in the region,” the Elysee said, amid growing alarm over swelling cross-border exchanges between Israel and Iran-backed Hezbollah in Lebanon.

Macron will propose relaunching a “true peace process,” with the aim of creating a viable Palestinian state in exchange for guarantees from regional powers toward “Israel’s security.”

There will also probably be exchanges with Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas, King Abdullah II of Jordan, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi, and leaders of Gulf nations, the Elysee said.

US President Joe Biden, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni have already visited Israel.