Truce in Gaza urgent, French FM says during Egypt visit
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French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius has called for an “urgent” ceasefire in Gaza, backing the Egyptian plan rejected by Hamas this week. In Egypt Saturday, Fabius said Palestinian President Mahmud Abbas asked for French help to sell the plan to the Islamists who control the Gaza Strip.
“The ceasefire is an urgent imperative,” Fabius said at a press conference in Cairo after meeting Egyptian President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi, who is trying to rally international support for the plan.
The French government “fully” backs the proposal, which was backed by Israel but not by Hamas, Fabius said.
“The absolute priority is a ceasefire but it must guarantee a lasting truce,” he declared, adding that it must take account of “Israel’s security” and Palestinian demands.
Hamas, which said it was never directly informed of Egypt’s plan, has made its own ceasefire proposal on condition that the Israeli blockade of Gaza end and Palestinian prisoners, freed under an earlier deal but rounded up again by Israel after the murder of three Israeli youths, be freed.
Sisi, who ousted Muslim Brother member Mohammed Morsi from the presidency last year, has accused Hamas of supporting armed fighters on its soil.
Egypt, which proposed indirect negotiations between Hamas and Israel, has rejected Hamas’s demand to involve Turkey and Qatar in the ceasefire negotiations.
Fabius said French officials are in contact with “all those who can influence” the process, including the two countries’ governments, following an appeal from Abbas, who runs the West Bank but not Gaza, to do so.
He was to meet Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Saturday night, following a stopover in Jordan, he said.
In Paris the far-left New Anticapitalist Party (NPA) said it would defy a ban on Sunday’s planned pro-Palestinian demonstration after a legal appeal against it failed on Friday evening.
Demonstrations in other parts of the country have not been banned.
The death toll in 12 days of conflict had risen to 333, of whom two were Israeli citizens and one an Israeli soldier, by midday Sunday.
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