Emmanuel Macron visited Tel Aviv on Tuesday, another trip by an international leader expressing their support for Israel and trying to cool down escalating tensions in the region.
The French president told Israeli officials that he came “to express our support and solidarity and share your pain”, assuring them that the country is “not left alone in the war against terrorism” after Hamas’ surprise attack on 7 October. About 30 French or Franco-Israeli nationals were killed that day.
During his visit, Macron met with his Israeli counterpart, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who said that his country would do anything he can to end the fight with Hamas quickly, “but it could be a long war.”
The French president tried to discourage Israel from launching an announced ground operation in the Gaza Strip, with an advisor to Macron saying that France believes “that such an operation would be very difficult to carry out in compliance” with “international law.”
While supporting Israel’s right to defend itself, Macron called for a humanitarian truce which could lead to a ceasefire, though he said that the release of the hostages held by Hamas is the first objective right now.
He called on Iran not to escalate the war into a regional conflict, asking the country to “not take the risk of opening new fronts.”
Macron proposed the creation of an international “coalition” to fight against Hamas or, alternatively, to extend the objective of the coalition set up in 2014 to fight the Islamic State (IS) in Syria and in Iraq to include Hamas.
“We are willing to build a coalition against Hamas or include Hamas in the work we are already doing in the coalition against ISIS, based on what Israel asks of us,” said one of Macron’s advisors.
“We take this threat very seriously and we are prepared to be involved in whatever is necessary to get rid of this threat.”
Macron’s visit was due to continue in Ramallah, in the occupied West Bank, where he’s expected to meet the President of the Palestinian Authority, Mahmoud Abbas. The Palestinian Authority hasn’t exercised any authority in the Gaza Strip since it was ousted by Hamas in 2007.
The French presidency said Macron will travel to Amman next, where he will “probably” meet King Abdullah II of Jordan and “perhaps other leaders in the region.”
Macron will return to France on Wednesday.