Macron warns Israel over any Rafah forced population transfer

French President Emmanuel Macron. File

French President Emmanuel Macron. File
| Photo Credit: Reuters

French President Emmanuel Macron on Sunday told Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that any forced transfer of people from the southern Gaza city of Rafah would constitute “a war crime”.

In a telephone call between the two leaders, Mr. Macron also “strongly condemned” Israel’s announcement Friday of the seizure of 800 hectares of land in the occupied West Bank for new settlements, said his office.

Activists say Israel’s declaration that the land in the northern Jordan Valley was now “state land” was the single largest such seizure in decades.

Mr. Macron also repeated his opposition to any Israeli military operation to fight Hamas in Rafah, where most of Gaza’s population has taken shelter after months of fierce fighting in the besieged territory.

In the call, Mr. Macron told Mr. Netanyahu he intended to bring a draft resolution to the UN Security Council calling for “an immediate and lasting ceasefire”.

He urged Israel to immediately open all crossing points into Gaza.

Mr. Macron also had talks with Jordan’s King Abdullah II, during which they discussed the “unjustifiable humanitarian situation in Gaza”, said the Elysee Palace.

Forcing civilians to run the risk of famine was “unjustifiable”, the two leaders said.

They also agreed on the need for a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, one that “implied the creation of a Palestinian state including Gaza”.

The planned Rafah ground offensive has faced growing international opposition, with warnings it would cause mass civilian casualties and worsen the humanitarian crisis.

Israel has insisted it is necessary in its campaign to destroy Hamas.

The Gaza war was sparked by the unprecedented Hamas attack on October 7 that resulted in about 1,160 deaths in Israel, mostly civilians, according to an AFP tally based on official Israeli figures.

Israel has vowed to destroy the militants, who also seized about 250 hostages, of whom Israel believes around 130 remain in Gaza, including 33 presumed dead.

Almost six months of fighting have killed 32,070 people in Gaza, according to the health ministry in the Hamas-run territory.

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