France’s new foreign minister used his first visit to Israel on Monday to urge the government to allow an “immediate ceasefire” in Gaza and a “massive influx” of humanitarian aid.

France’s new foreign minister Stéphane Séjourné, who became France’s top diplomat During his visit last month, he met Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem.

Speaking at a news conference later, Séjourné said it was France’s role as a “friend” to tell Israeli leaders some truths they “might have trouble hearing.”

Amid accusations by the United Nations of an independent review of UNRWA, its staff joined the Hamas-led attack on Israel

“For four months now, the people of Gaza have been living under bombs and a near-total siege. They are being denied the minimum aid they need to treat their wounds, protect themselves from epidemics and feed themselves,” he said. ”

Séjourné asserted that France “strongly supports Israel’s right to self-defense” after a coordinated attack by Hamas in southern Israel that started the war in Gaza. At the same time, he described the killings and destruction in the Palestinian land as a tragedy.

He said that the tragedy of Gaza should end. “We call for international humanitarian law to be respected by all and for an immediate and lasting ceasefire and a massive influx of humanitarian aid.”

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and French Foreign Minister Stephane Sejourn

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, left, is seen with French Foreign Minister Stephane Sjourn, right, before their meeting in Jerusalem on February 5, 2024. (Gil Cohen-Megan/Pool via AP)

US Secretary of State Antony Blanken arrives in Saudi Arabia. Monday on a Middle East tour that will also take him to Egypt, Qatar, Israel and the West Bank this week. Blankenship remains hopeful that progress will be made on a possible cease-fire agreement.

Séjourné also called for the “immediate and unconditional release” of all remaining hostages held by Hamas in Gaza. He said three French nationals are believed to be among them.

A senior French official, speaking on condition of anonymity about sensitive information, said on Monday that France was working with Qatar and other partners in the region to obtain evidence that dozens of Medicines sent to Gaza for the hostages have been delivered.

France (France’s) and Qatar last month reached the first agreement since a week-long cease-fire between Israel and the militant group in November. The agreement allowed the supply of drugs for the use of hostages and Palestinian civilians.

As he welcomed the visiting foreign minister, Netanyahu praised France’s “steadfastness and continued support from day one” and said he planned to discuss issues related to Lebanon, where militancy is taking place. The militant group Hezbollah has shelled targets in northern Israel during the Israel-Hamas war. .

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Lebanon is a former French protectorate. Séjourné said France is determined. Preventing any increase of regional rivalry.

The minister’s first visit to the Middle East since his appointment began with stops in Egypt on Saturday and Jordan on Sunday.

Séjourné was scheduled to meet Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in the West Bank city of Ramallah on Monday and travel to Lebanon on Tuesday.


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