France voices serious concern over Middle East violence

Israel/Palestinian Territories – Conversations between Jean-Yves Le Drian and his American and Egyptian counterparts (16-17 May) – Press briefing by the Ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs Spokesperson (excerpt)

Paris, 17 May 2021

Jean-Yves Le Drian, Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs, spoke by phone on Sunday 16 May, during the evening, with Antony Blinken, US Secretary of State, and received Sameh Shoukry, Egyptian Minister of Foreign Affairs, on Monday 17 May in order to exchange views with respect to the situation in the Middle East in particular. The Minister and his counterparts shared their deep concern at the continuation of the ongoing escalation, the already very heavy human toll among the civilian populations, and the risks associated with the worsening of the conflict, its spread to the Palestinian Territories and Israel, and its regional repercussions. Together with his counterparts, the Minister examined ways to strengthen their coordination in order to help end the violence.

Jean-Yves Le Drian emphasized the need for a swift cessation of hostilities. He expressed his determination to continue to work towards that end with our American, Arab and European partners, as well as at the UN Security Council. He paid tribute to Egypt’s mediation efforts aimed at re-establishing the ceasefire, with which France’s approach is fully coordinated, in the context of President el-Sisi’s current visit to Paris. He utterly condemned the rocket attacks against population centres in Israeli territory, for which Hamas has notably claimed responsibility. He reaffirmed that the response to these unacceptable attacks must remain proportionate, in accordance with international law. He also reaffirmed that the security of journalists and all those who contribute to the freedom of information and public debate, as well as their protection in times of conflict, is a critical responsibility.

Jean-Yves Le Drian also emphasized that all actors on the ground must exercise restraint, avoid any provocation and work towards ending the violence, notably in the West Bank. He called for the continuation of measures to ease tensions in Jerusalem, while reaffirming our attachment to the status quo of 1967 in the Holy Places and our strong opposition to all forms of settlement activity, notably the evictions in the neighbourhood of Sheikh Jarrah.

He reaffirmed France’s determination to help restore calm in Israel and in the Palestinian Territories, in collaboration with local, regional and international actors, as well as to take action within the relevant international forums, notably the Security Council and the EU Foreign Affairs Council, which is due to meet tomorrow. (…)./.

Middle East – Conversation between M. Emmanuel Macron, President of the Republic, and Mr Benjamin Netanyahu, Prime Minister of Israel – Communiqué issued by the Presidency of the Republic

Paris, 14 May 2021

The French President is continuing his contacts with all parties to end the escalation of violence in the Middle East. Today he spoke to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. He extended his condolences for the victims of the [rocket and missile] launches for which responsibility has been claimed by Hamas and other terrorist groups, which he once again strongly condemned.

Today, on the anniversary of the creation of the State of Israel, the President reiterated his unwavering commitment to Israel’s security and its right to defend itself in accordance with international law.

The President emphasized the urgent nature of a return to peace. He also told his interlocutor of his concern regarding the civilian population in Gaza.

The President is continuing his efforts to bring about an end to the violence in coordination with his partners. The Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs is stepping up contacts with his counterparts. France will play its full role in the United Nations Security Council meeting to be held on Sunday./.

Middle East – Israel/Palestinian Territories – Communiqué issued by the Ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs

Paris, 13 May 2021

M. Jean-Yves Le Drian, Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs, spoke today to his Israeli, Palestinian and Egyptian counterparts. He emphasized our deep concern over the escalation under way, whose human toll is already very heavy, and our desire to contribute to a swift calming of tensions.

He once again strongly condemned the attacks carried out against much of Israeli territory, for which Hamas in particular has claimed responsibility, and recalled that the response to those unacceptable attacks must remain proportionate. He stressed that all those involved on the ground must work to end the violence, and he paid tribute to the central role played by Egypt in this regard.

He called for calming measures in Jerusalem to be continued, reiterating our commitment to the 1967 status quo on the holy places and our firm opposition to settlement activity in all forms.

He reaffirmed France’s desire to contribute to a return to the ceasefire in Gaza and a return to calm in Israel and the Palestinian Territories./.

Middle East - Communique issued by the Presidency of the Republic

13 May 2021

Concerned by the escalation in violence in the Middle East, President Macron is determined to work with all the parties to end it as quickly as possible. Restoring calm, peace, are our priorities.

In this spirit, President Macron spoke today with the President of the Palestinian Authority, Mahmoud Abbas. He offered President Abbas his condolences, on this religious holiday, for the many deaths of Palestinian civilians as a result of military operations and clashes with Israel. He strongly condemned the rocket launches against Israeli territory for which Hamas and other terrorist groups claimed responsibility, seriously endangering the people of Tel Aviv and other Israeli cities and undermining Israel’s security. Finally, he asked him to use all his influence to re-establish calm as quickly as possible.

President Macron will also have a conversation with the Israeli Prime Minister, who is unavailable to speak on the phone today. He will be in touch with France’s main partners in the Middle East, and notably Egyptian president Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, whose mediation effort he fully supports.

President Macron will emphasize to all the urgent need to restore peace, to revive the crucial negotiations necessary to establishing a just and lasting peace between Israelis and Palestinians, and France’s desire to contribute to that effort with due regard for the legitimate aspirations of all./.

Middle East – Israel/Palestinian Territories – Statement by M. Jean-Yves Le Drian, Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs, in the Senate (excerpt)

Paris, 12 May 2021

(…)

I am deeply concerned by the situation in the Middle East which, as everyone knows, stems from the lack of political prospects in a situation that has gone on for too long, and that can only continue to produce suffering and violence if there is no will to advance resolutely towards the establishment of two States living side by side in peace and security, with Jerusalem as capital.

For several days – and still at the moment, especially last night, but it’s continuing – the clashes have intensified and have already taken a very heavy toll on Palestinian and Israeli civilians. This current cycle of violence in Gaza, in Jerusalem, but also in the West Bank and several other cities in Israel, could lead to a major escalation. In less than 15 years, the Gaza Strip has been the victim of three deadly conflicts. Everything must be done to avoid a fourth one. It is therefore absolutely essential that all actors – without exception – show the highest restraint and refrain from all provocation and incitement to hatred, in order to end the violence, the first victims of which are Palestinian and Israeli civilians. The only priority at this time, for these people and the whole region, should be the easing of tensions. I will be meeting my Israeli and Palestinian counterparts very shortly, in order to share all of these messages with them and to contribute to de-escalation. I will also speak to my Egyptian counterpart in a few hours’ time, in order to coordinate our action with the efforts of Egypt, to which I pay tribute and which is working right now on a resumption of the ceasefire in Gaza.

I’d also like to say to you that France condemns in the strongest terms the rocket and missile fire that has intensified from the Gaza Strip, aimed at Jerusalem and several inhabited areas of Israeli territory, including Tel Aviv, and that could cause another series of clashes. These strikes, carried out in violation of international law and for which responsibility has been claimed by Hamas, are unacceptable.

But we are also extremely worried about the situation in Jerusalem. Strictly preserving the historic status quo on the Temple Mount is imperative. I raised this issue with my Jordanian counterpart, given Jordan’s specific recognized role regarding the Holy Places of Jerusalem.

I also recall our total condemnation of settlement-building, which is contrary to international law: the threats of forced eviction targeting Palestinian residents of East Jerusalem near the Old City, particularly in Sheikh Jarrah, are part of settlement-building and fuel tensions. Lastly, the right to peacefully demonstrate must be safeguarded.

I’d like to say to you, ladies and gentlemen senators, that the French President and I are obviously doing our utmost, particularly with our colleagues from Europe – Germany in particular – Egypt and Jordan, to help de-escalate tensions. We all four [countries] have a single goal: the resumption of dialogue between the parties with a view to a fair and lasting resolution of the conflict, in compliance with international law, Security Council resolutions and internationally agreed parameters. (…)./.

Israel/Palestinian Territories – Deterioration in the security situation (10 May) - Press briefing by the Ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs Spokesperson (excerpt)

Paris, 10 May 2021

(...)

Once again France expresses its serious concern over the clashes and violence witnessed over the past several days in Jerusalem, which has left several hundred injured and could lead to a large-scale escalation. France strongly condemns last night’s rocket fire from the Gaza Strip targeting Israeli territory, in violation of international law.

France calls on all actors to show maximum restraint and to refrain from any kind of provocation so that calm may be restored as quickly as possible. All actions contributing to escalation on the ground must end.

In this regard, France is deeply concerned by the threat of forced evictions against residents of the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood in East Jerusalem, which are linked to the settlement policy – which is illegal under international law – and exacerbate tensions. France also reaffirms its commitment to preserving the historic status quo on the Temple Mount.

All provocative statements and all calls for violence and hatred are unacceptable and must stop immediately./.

Published on 20/09/2021

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