France MPs slam FM's opposition to Israel genocide case

France MPs slam FM's opposition to Israel genocide case
Two French left-wing MPs have criticised Stephane Sejourne’s remarks, saying that Israel's continued atrocities in Gaza very much constituted genocide.
3 min read
20 January, 2024
Stephane Sejourne drew anger for saying that accusing Israel of genocide "crosses a moral threshold" [Getty/file photo]

A number of French opposition MPs have condemned Foreign Minister Stephane Sejourne's comments saying that accusing Israel of genocide would be "crossing a moral threshold".

Thomas Portes, a member of the left-wing France Insoumise (France Unbowed) party, said that the Foreign Minister’s comments "endorse with deafening silence" the ongoing atrocities in Gaza by "refusing to condemn Israeli war criminals" in a post on X.

Portes shared a video of Palestinian victims killed by Israel in Gaza, wrapped in shrouds, in accompaniment with his comments. 

In his post, the French lawmaker described what was happening in the video as a "typical morning in Gaza. Bodies piling up, the majority of them women and children".

"Yes @StephaneSejourne, it’s a genocide. A GENOCIDE," he added.

On Wednesday, Sejourne made a statement saying that France does not back the case filed against Israel by South Africa at the International Court of Justice, which accused Tel Aviv of carrying out genocide against the Palestinian people amid the war in Gaza.

Close to 25,000 people have been killed since October 7 – mostly women and children, while Israel has obliterated universities and libraries, and targeted mosques, schools and hospitals in its relentless bombardment. 

Pretoria said that Tel Aviv’s onslaught breaches the 1948 UN Genocide Convention, and has asked the court to immediately halt the deadly military offensive carried out by Israel.

"Accusing the Jewish state of genocide crosses a moral threshold. The notion of genocide cannot be exploited for political gains," Sejourne said in parliament earlier this week.

The 38-year-old was made foreign minister earlier this month following the appointment of Gabriel Attal as the country’s newest prime minister.

His comments concerning South Africa’s genocide case were met with backlash from activists online, accusing the French government of double standards and hypocrisy given that Paris is a founding member of the ICJ. 

Another French left-wing politician, Daniele Obono, also slammed Sejourne's remarks. The France Unbowed member said: "No, it’s committing a genocide that crosses a legal and moral threshold."

"Israel is above neither law nor morality," she added.

Portes, who is a member of France’s National Assembly, has taken to social media to raise awareness of Israel’s military campaign in Gaza on numerous occasions.

In December last year, the lawmaker called for French nationals who have committed war crimes while serving in the Israeli army to be be brought to justice.