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French President Macron extends support to Israel, urges ‘return to peace’

French President Emmanuel Macron affirmed his “unwavering attachment” to Israel’s security on Friday during a telephone call with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu amid renewed airstrikes on Gaza.

Macron offered condolences to Netanyahu and strongly condemned rocket attacks by Hamas into Israeli territory. He underlined the “urgency of a return to peace” and “expressed concern about the civilian populations in Gaza,” according to a statement by the Elysee Palace.

The president made a similar call to his Palestinian counterpart Mahmoud Abbas on Thursday when he offered condolences “for the many losses of Palestinian civilians resulting from military operations and ongoing clashes with Israel” but avoided condemning Israel’s airstrikes on Gaza which has killed more than 100 Palestinians.

France launched a diplomatic initiative with Germany, Egypt and Jordan; and Macron has called for cease-fire and dialogue to “put an end to the ongoing violence.”

The Macron administration is facing criticism for its seemingly anti-Palestine stance and refusal to condemn Israeli atrocities. The interior ministry prohibited demonstrations in support of Palestine in Paris, fearing a repeat of violent scenes which occurred during rallies in 2014.

Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin repeated that there would be no hatred and anti-Semitism demonstrations in France.

The move was supported by Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo who called the decision a “wise move.”

“I maintain that given the difficult, inflammable context, of this temptation that we have always known to import the Israeli-Palestinian conflict here, in France and in Paris, I think it is a wise decision and I approve of it,” she told Radio J.

An administrative court in Paris rejected a request for interim relief against the ban filed by the Association of Palestinians in lle-de-France ahead of a scheduled demonstration planned for Saturday. Police denied permission citing the risk of “serious disturbances to public order.”

Lawyer Sefen Guez said the court rejected the request without a hearing and the group was moving the appeal to the top administrative court. “France remains the only democratic country to ban these demonstrations,” he said on Twitter.

Several rallies are planned Saturday to mark the declaration of independence of Israel and the exodus of Palestinians called, Nakba.

It is not known whether permission for those rallies was granted.

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