Netanyahu, in a Confrontation With France, Warns a Waffling Macron That If Hamas Is Not Stopped, Terror Will Come to Paris

Tension between the president and prime minister reaches a boiling point as Israel insists the terror it is fighting could one day reach New York and Paris.

AP/Daniel Cole, pool
President Macron on April 20, 2023, at Ganges, southern France. AP/Daniel Cole, pool

PARIS — The brewing brawl between the leader of the Fifth Republic and the premier of the Jewish state underscores how the war against Hamas has failed to stiffen Europe’s spine to stand beside Israel as it works to dismantle an enemy it has compared to ISIS.  

President Macron, in an interview with the British Broadcasting Company on Friday at the Elysee Palace, ventured that there is “no justification” for Israel’s bombing in Gaza of “these babies, these ladies, these old people.” He added that “there is no reason for that and no legitimacy. So we do urge Israel to stop.”

Those remarks promoted a swift reply from Prime Minister Netanyahu, who in a statement explained that “while Israel is doing everything to refrain from harming civilians and calling on them to leave areas of fighting, Hamas-ISIS is doing everything to prevent them from leaving for safe areas and is using them as human shields.” 

Mr. Netanyahu warned the French president that the “crimes that Hamas-ISIS is committing today in Gaza, will tomorrow be committed in Paris, New York, and everywhere around the world. World leaders must condemn Hamas-ISIS and not Israel.” Mr. Macron wants other European powers — and America — to join his calls for a ceasefire. Israel maintains that such a step would hand Hamas a victory.

Mr. Macron also told the BBC that he “clearly condemns” Hamas’s attack on October 7, and that France “feels Israel’s pain” and “their willingness to get rid of terrorism,” but that “for the security of Israel itself,” it needs to “recognize that all lives matter.” He opined that Israel’s “large bombing of Gaza” was engendering “resentment and bad feelings” in the Middle East.

It has been a busy week for Mr. Macron with regard to Israel. He hosted an aid conference for Gaza on the sidelines of the Paris Peace Forum, an annual event he founded to bring together “stakeholders to advance concrete solutions where none exist.” During that conference, he reiterated calls for a ceasefire.

In the days after the October 7 attacks, Mr. Macron visited Israel, where he called for the international coalition that arrayed itself against ISIS to be pitted against Hamas. At the United Nations, though, France supported a non-binding General Assembly resolution that demanded a ceasefire and made no mention of Hamas’s atrocities. 

Closer to home for Mr. Macron, Israel’s war against Hamas has led to a spike in antisemitism against France’s Jews, the largest Jewish community in Europe. The president says he will be “ruthless” in combating the surging scourge and that “attacking a Jew” is akin to an “attack on the Republic.” He has not yet confirmed, though, whether he will attend a march against antisemitism planned for Sunday at Paris.


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