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Israeli officials reject defence chief 'attacks' on France

By AFP

June 14, 2024 11:33 PM


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Senior Israeli officials said Friday that comments by the defence minister, who rejected a French initiative to contain tensions on the Lebanese border over "hostile policies against Israel", do not reflect the government's position.

French President Emmanuel Macron announced Thursday at the G7 summit in Italy that France, the United States and Israel would form a group to de-escalate soaring cross-border violence between Lebanese armed group Hezbollah and Israeli forces.

But Defence Minister Yoav Gallant said on social media platform X that "Israel will not be a party to the trilateral framework proposed by France", which last month had barred Israeli defence firms from a trade show.

"As we fight a just war, defending our people, France has adopted hostile policies against Israel," Gallant said, accusing Paris of ignoring attacks on Israelis by Palestinian militant group Hamas.

The office of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and senior officials in the foreign ministry distanced themselves from Gallant's remarks.

Asked by AFP whether the comments reflected the government's position, a spokesperson for the prime minister's office said Gallant was speaking as defence minister.

The foreign ministry officials described the remarks as "attacks on France".

"Beyond the existing disagreements between Israel and France, the statements against France are incorrect and inappropriate," the officials said.

"France actively participated in the defence of Israel's skies and citizens and took part in the operation to thwart the Iranian missile attack" in April, they added.

The officials also praised France's "clear line of condemnation and sanctions against Hamas" since the onset of the Gaza war, as well as combatting of the "scourge of anti-Semitism".

Macron's offer, which he said a similar one was being made to Lebanon, aims to curb near-daily exchanges of fire between Israel and Lebanon's powerful Iran-backed Hezbollah, a Hamas ally, which have escalated in recent weeks.

The clashes began shortly after the Palestinian group's October 7 attack on southern Israel that sparked the ongoing war in the Gaza Strip.

French authorities in May banned Israeli defence firms from exhibiting at a trade show taking place later this month near Paris, amid global outrage over Israel's military operations in the Gaza Strip.

Hamas's unprecedented October 7 attack on southern Israel resulted in the deaths of 1,194 people, mostly civilians, according to an AFP tally based on Israeli official figures.

Israel's retaliatory offensive has killed at least 37,266 people in Gaza, also mostly civilians, according to the Hamas-ruled territory's health ministry.


AFP


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