France's Macron calls for international coalition against Hamas

France's Macron calls for international coalition against Hamas
3 min read
The French president has proposed that the international coalition fighting IS also goes after Hamas.
Macron was the latest of a string of western leaders to visit Israel [Getty]

French President Emmanuel Macron called Tuesday for Gaza's Palestinian group Hamas to be added to the targets of an international coalition against the Islamic State (IS) group.

Macron also said there had to be a "decisive relaunch" of the Middle East peace process, following talks with leaders in Israel, whose army is building up to a ground invasion of the Gaza Strip with the declared aim of toppling Hamas.

Macron said the Global Coalition against Daesh, or the Islamic State group (IS), "should also fight against Hamas".

The French president said he had proposed this in talks with Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and to other "international partners".

"We should build a regional and international coalition to battle against terrorist groups that threaten us all," he told a joint news conference with Netanyahu.

An Elysee Palace source said Macron's proposal "draws inspiration from the experience of the Global Coalition against Daesh and seeing what aspects can be replicated against Hamas".

The coalition was set up in 2014 and says it has 86 "members" - countries and groups such as the European Union and the Arab League.

It has focused on countering IS in Iraq and Syria but is also aimed at cutting off funding to the extremists, the sharing of intelligence and support for many countries, including the training of Iraqi forces.

Macron was the latest of a string of western leaders to voice support for Israel's riposte to Hamas after the 7 October attacks which Israel says left 1,400 people dead. Hamas also captured hundreds of Israelis.

Nearly 5,800 people have been killed in Israel's bombardment of the Palestinian enclave, mainly women and children.

Macron said extending the coalition would benefit Israel and its neighbours who are also "threatened" by Hamas, which is branded a terrorist organisation by the European Union and United States.

"The battle must be without mercy, but not without rule because we are democracies which fight against terrorists, democracies which respect the right to war and assure humanitarian access," Macron said.

Macron's office said before his visit that he would seek a "humanitarian truce" in Gaza while in Israel, but no mention was made after his talks with Netanyahu.

The French leader did call for a "decisive" new effort to move toward a Palestinian state, declaring: "The Palestinian cause must be heard with reason".

"Israel's security cannot be sustainable with a decisive relaunch of the political process with the Palestinians."

The French leader was to go to Ramallah on Tuesday for talks with Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian Authority said.

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"Tomorrow I will be with several leaders from the region to concretely advance the agenda we have given ourselves," he said.

Macron met some of the relatives of the 30 French people killed in the 7 October attacks and the nine people missing, at least one of whom has been confirmed as being a hostage.

He said freeing all hostages had to be the "first objective" of the military campaign.

Like other western leaders Macron told Netanyahu and President Isaac Herzog that Israel was "not alone" and stressed how France has also suffered from militant attacks.

"I think this is our duty to fight against these terrorist groups, without any confusion, without... enlarging this conflict."

With the Iranian-backed Hezbollah group daily trading artillery fire with the army across the Lebanon-Israel border, Western governments are concerned the conflict could spread.

Macron named Hezbollah, Iran and the Houthis in Yemen when he said they should "not take the ill-considered risk of opening new fronts".

US President Joe Biden, British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz raised the same concerns during visits to Israel over the past week.