Fighting terrorism does not mean 'flatten Gaza', says Emmanuel Macron

'All lives are worth the same and we defend them,' French President says

French President Emmanuel Macron during the interview on France 5. AFP
Powered by automated translation

Live updates: Follow the latest news on Israel-Gaza

Emmanuel Macron on Wednesday said that to fight terrorism did not mean “to flatten Gaza”.

Referring to Israel's response to an unprecedented attack by Hamas on October 7, Mr Macron told French TV on Wednesday: “We cannot let the idea take root that an efficient fight against terrorism implies to flatten Gaza or attack civilian populations indiscriminately.”

He called on Israel "to stop this response because it is not appropriate, because all lives are worth the same and we defend them".

While acknowledging "Israel's right to defend itself and fight terror", Mr Macron said France called for the protection of civilians and "a truce leading to a humanitarian ceasefire".

He also discussed France's tough new immigration law, saying it will allow the country to better combat illegal immigration and enable the integration of documented arrivals.

Mr Macron said the law “is a shield that we needed”, despite it causing a deep split in his party and leading to the resignation of his health minister, Aurelien Rousseau.

“When you govern you have responsibilities,” he told the France 5 broadcaster.

Mr Macron said the government needed “to stand by” the law “and calm the tensions”. He said that France would continue to welcome foreigners.

After 18 months of wrangling over one of the flagship reforms of his second term, both chambers of Parliament backed the legislation on Tuesday.

Marine Le Pen's far-right National Rally endorsed the bill in a move some media called a “kiss of death”.

Mr Macron said he respected Mr Rousseau's resignation earlier on Wednesday.

“I also have a lot of respect for the deputies of the governing coalition who voted in favour of the law although they did not like all its aspects,” he said.

Mr Macron denied that the law was close to the National Rally's ideology and said that he did not agree with all elements of the new legislation.

To stop the far right being elected to government, “we need to handle the problems that they feed on”, he said.

“I have not betrayed voters who rallied behind me to stop the far right.”

Updated: December 21, 2023, 5:07 AM