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French press review 17 November 2012

Today’s national dailies are dominated by renewed violence between Israel and Hamas in Gaza and in France planned demonstrations against gay marriage and a controversial airport in the home town of French Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault.


Le Figaro headlines “All-out missile war in full swing in Gaza” with Israel piling pressure on Hamas.

Dossier: Gaza 2009

The conservative newspaper says that a galaxy of Islamist jihadists is threatening the Jewish state, claiming that Hamas, which controls the Gaza Strip, is overwhelmed by ultra-radical groups supported by Iran.

Le Figaro runs a quote from a recent speech by Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi which clarifies Cairo’s new position on the Middle East conflict. “Today’s Egypt,” he said, “is not yesterday’s Egypt and today’s Arabs are different from those of yesterday.”

Aujourd’hui en France raises its eyebrows about “Tsahal presence at the gates of Gaza”. The paper reports that, after Friday’s air strikes and the blockade of all access into the Palestinian territory, Israel is now finalising plans for a ground operation.

Le Monde sees Israel’s mobilisation of thousands of reserve soldiers as the clearest signal that Operation Pillar of Defence is about to be intensified. According to the paper, the spectre of the offensice on Gaza in the winter of 2008 and 2009 is looming again.

Libération raises the concerns of the international community in the wake of the violation of Friday's supposed ceasefire and Israel’s continued bombardment of Palestinian targets and the firing of rockets on Tel Aviv and Jerusalem by the Palestinians.

According to the paper, the escalation leaves the United States on dodgy ground and hoping that Cairo can make progress in its mediation effort. There is a strategic twist to the drama unfolding in the Middle East, according to Libé, the fact that Washington could be compelled to revise its policy towards Iran.

Le Monde takes up plans by thousands of demonstrators converging this Saturday on Notre-Dame-des-Landes, the site of a planned new airport, near the western city of Nantes.

Ecologists are up in arms about the 30-year-old project, sponsored by Prime Minister Jean Marc Ayrault while he was mayor of Nantes, hence the nickname “Ayraultport” given to the facility. Le Monde says that Communists and radical left-winigers are determined to turn the protest into a symbol and a day of anger against the austerity policies of Socialist government.

Aujourd’hui en France and Le Figaro both discuss demonstrations this Saturday and Sunday against the planned legalisation of homosexual marriages in France.

Libération says that thousands of religious believers, including bishops and imams, are set to take join the protests in the rallies in at least 10 major cities across the country.

Le Figaro has a checklist of the slogans the protesters will be carrying, such as “I won’t exchange my mum for two fathers”,  “I’m delivered by a man and a woman”,  “One father one mother, don’t lie to the children”. Their ultimate goal, according to Aujourd’hui en France is to keep the anti-gay marriage movement going up to the end of January when the draft law is due to be tabled in parliament.

The Catholic daily La Croix is urging Christians to turn out en masse for the protests. The paper says that beyond the collective moral issue at stake, Christians must express their individual rejection of the scheme with style and efficiency.

Libération highlights the anxiety of right-wing opposition UMP party faithful as they prepare to vote on Sunday to elect a new leader. Ex-prime minister François Fillon is running against the current party secretary Jean-Francois Copé.

Libé says some UMP dignitaries are warning of the risk of an explosion if the election doesn’t go well. Le Figaro reports that six months after the UMP’s defeat in presidential and parliamentary elections, some 300,000 party members are eager to elect not just a party leader but the man who can lead the UMP back to power in five years time.

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