French PM calls for swift and unfettered access for aid to Gaza

Middle East – Reply by M. Jean Castex, Prime Minister, to a question in the National Assembly

Paris, 18 May 2021

Indeed, the situation is extremely serious and worrying, and France and its diplomatic service, and first and foremost the French President, are taking action in the face of these events, which, as you recalled, are taking a very heavy human toll. We’re worried about the fate of civilians in Gaza, a territory which has already been hit hard by nearly 15 years of blockade. Moreover, this spiral of violence isn’t confined to Gaza, because in several Israeli towns and cities, tension between [Israeli and Arab] populations has reached an unprecedented level of violence; in the West Bank and Jerusalem, there’s a growing number of clashes between Palestinians, settlers and Israeli security forces.

In the face of this situation France is, above all, calling extremely strongly on all those involved to put an immediate end to all violence, all provocation and all incitement to hatred, to allow calm to return.

We’re calling on all those involved to guarantee swift and unfettered access for aid to Gaza. As you know, a humanitarian convoy has been authorized today, and this process must continue. We’re also asking everyone to protect humanitarian and medical staff. Finally, the safety of journalists and all those who contribute by what they say to freedom of information and to the public debate, and their protection in times of conflict, are part of an essential spirit of responsibility.

But, as we all know here, there has to be a long-term political solution to this conflict! France, particularly in Jerusalem, very early on expressed its concern about the tensions which emerged in April, it has continually highlighted the risks linked to continuation of the settlements policy, especially the evictions in East Jerusalem, and has restated the need to strictly preserve the historical status quo at the city’s holy sites, and it reiterates to the nation’s representatives its unfailing commitment to Israel’s security!

The President has just spoken to the King of Jordan and the Egyptian President to ensure that we push in the same direction. He had a meeting yesterday with the latter after talking, over the previous days, to Prime Minister Netanyahu and President Abbas. France unreservedly supports Egypt’s mediation efforts, with which our initiatives are closely coordinated.

As you see, Mr President [of the National Assembly], ladies and gentlemen deputies, France will spare no effort to reach a cessation of hostilities and a political solution, that of lasting peace./.

Published on 20/05/2021

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