Israel-Hamas truce offers 'glimmer of hope', Macron tells Arab officials

French President tells foreign ministers meeting in Paris: 'There are no double standards for France'

Foreign ministers were in Paris to discuss the continuing Israel-Gaza war. Getty Images
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A proposed four-day truce between Israel and Hamas offers a "glimmer of hope" in the continuing war, France's President Emmanuel Macron told senior officials from the Middle East and the Muslim world at a meeting in Paris.

"It's the first time since October 7 that there is a glimmer of hope, not just with your visit ... but thanks as well to the truce being organised for a few hours plus the release of hostages," Mr Macron said, according to a video published on Thursday on X, formerly Twitter.

"I do hope we will deliver," he told the foreign ministers of Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Jordan, Indonesia, Nigeria, Turkey and Palestine.

Mr Macron was speaking on Wednesday, shortly after the four-day truce was announced by Israel. It was to come into effect on Thursday but has since been delayed until the following day at the earliest.

The temporary truce involves the exchange of 50 hostages abducted by Hamas from southern Israel on October 7 for up to 150 female and child Palestinian prisoners held in Israel.

Sitting around Mr Macron were representatives sent by the Arab League and the Organisation for Islamic Co-operation, including Ahmed Aboul Gheit, Secretary General of the Arab League.

Mr Macron described their meeting as a co-ordination effort to "build a sustainable peace in the whole region".

The French President also highlighted the position of France on the conflict, which initially condemned the Hamas attacks on Israel which killed about 1,200 people.

But Mr Macron was also one of the first prominent western leaders to call for a ceasefire as the number of deaths grew in Israeli retaliatory bombing of Gaza. It currently stands at more than 14,000 people, including 5,840 children.

"There is no double standard for France," Mr Macron told his guests, in a reference to oft-heard accusations against western leaders of a prioritisation of Israeli interests over Palestinian ones.

Mr Macron laid out France's vision of how the international community should respond to the war, starting with fighting terrorism in the region.

"We are very vigilant with all the other terrorist groups being linked or not linked to Iran," Mr Macron said.

Second, France says it is focused on supporting the Palestinian people with humanitarian aid.

"We were the first G7 country to join Jordan with the resolution," said Mr Macron, in an apparent reference to the UN General Assembly adoption of a resolution on October 26 calling for an immediate and sustained "humanitarian truce" between Israel and Hamas.

The third pillar is restarting political negotiations to find a two-state solution, Mr Macron said.

"There is a fair request of Palestinian people to call for a government and a state," he said. "We have to resume the political dialogue."

European and US leaders have said they believe that post-war Gaza should be taken over by the Palestinian Authority, which was ousted by Hamas in 2007.

France and other EU countries are expected to continue discussing the conflict in the coming weeks.

The office of the EU's top diplomat, Josep Borrell, is expected to put forward an option paper for the bloc's 27 foreign ministers to discuss at their next meeting on December 11.

The best way to guarantee Israel's protection is the creation of a Palestinian state, Mr Borrell said on Monday.

"Diplomacy and engagement remain the best way to avoid uncontrollable escalation," he added, speaking after returning from a five-day tour of the Middle East.

Updated: November 24, 2023, 5:14 AM