French President Macron says coalition against ISIS should be expanded to fight Hamas

French leader calls for 'decisive relaunch' of Palestinian peace process

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, right, shakes hands with French President Emmanuel Macron at a press conference in Jerusalem on Tuesday. AP
Powered by automated translation

Live updates: Follow the latest on Israel-Gaza

French President Emmanuel Macron proposed on Tuesday that the existing international coalition fighting ISIS in Iraq and Syria should be expanded to fight against Hamas in Gaza.

The French leader stressed there must be a “decisive relaunch” of the Palestinian peace process following the crisis set off by the deadly Hamas attacks and Israel's response.

“France is ready for the international coalition against [ISIS] in which we are taking part for operations in Iraq and Syria to also fight against Hamas,” Mr Macron told reporters while standing alongside Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem.

The French President stressed that the stability of the Middle East “will only be possible if Israel also allows for a political approach to the conflict with Palestinians” calling on Lebanese militant group Hezbollah and Iran not to take risk of any “regional escalation”.

He added that “the fight against terrorism must be without mercy but not without rules”.

Mr Macron reaffirmed his calls for the release of all hostages by Hamas.

Mr Netanyahu said his country's military would destroy Hamas during the continuing war in the Gaza Strip, but warned that the war might take time.

The Israeli military said earlier on Tuesday it had escalated its bombardment of targets in the Gaza Strip ahead of an expected ground invasion against Hamas militants.

The attacks – and rapidly rising death toll of thousands in Gaza – came as Hamas released two Israeli women who were among the hundreds of hostages it captured during its devastating October 7 attack on towns in southern Israel.

Mr Macron arrived in Tel Aviv on Tuesday and met the families of French citizens who were killed or held hostage before heading to talks with top Israeli officials.

He told Israel’s President Isaac Herzog that he came “to express our support and solidarity and share your pain” as well as to assure Israel it is “not left alone in the war against terrorism”.

Hamas released two hostages for 'humanitarian' reasons

Hamas released two hostages for 'humanitarian' reasons

Mr Hezog said that Israel is not looking to wage war with Hezbollah, but is focused instead on battling Hamas in the Gaza Strip.

“I want to make clear, we are not looking for a confrontation on our northern border or with anyone else … But if Hezbollah drags us into a war it should be clear that Lebanon will pay the price,” Herzog said.

Mr Macron’s trip was drawn up with three goals – showing solidarity with Israel, avoiding an escalation and opening political discussions by securing “engagements from a number of partners”, an Elysee Palace adviser said earlier.

The official said France sees Israel as unable to order a ceasefire because it continues to be under rocket fire, as European countries debate calls for a “humanitarian pause”.

They would not be drawn on whether Mr Macron supports a delay to an Israeli ground offensive in Gaza.

Asked whether Israel was respecting international law as it bombards the enclave, the French adviser acknowledged there were civilian victims in Gaza but said bombing raids were targeted.

They said the lesson of the Gaza crisis was that the Palestine-Israel conflict had become central again, and they reiterated France’s view that a two-state solution is “the only viable option”.

Updated: October 24, 2023, 11:53 AM