French President Macron Calls for International 'Coalition' to Combat Hamas

French President Emmanuel Macron travelled to Jerusalem on Tuesday to reaffirm his country’s support for Israel and called for an international “coalition” of nations to combat the scourge of Islamist terrorist groups such as Hamas.

Appearing alongside Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Mr Macron said in a speech that the world must remember that Israel has a “legitimate right to defend itself,” adding: “This cause is just, period.”

The French leader, who expressed solidarity with Israel as the leader of a country that has also faced deadly Islamist attacks, said that the priority of Western democracies should be to defeat terrorism, saying per Le Figaro: “I propose to our international partners that we can build a regional and international coalition to fight against these terrorist groups which threaten us all.”

It is not precisely clear what form of a “coalition” Macron envisages for the future, however, with the French military largely retreating from its presence in Africa, the French leader could be eying the Middle East as another venue to exert military power.

While there are growing calls from within the European Union to pressure Jerusalem into a ceasefire — before the expected ground invasion of Gaza has even begun — Macron seemed to reject such notions, saying that Israel’s fight against Hamas should be “merciless”.

He did caveat, however, that the war should still be fought along the rules of combat and that humanitarian aid should be allowed to reach civilians in Gaza.

Macron also doubled down on his call to Hezbollah terrorists in Lebanon, the Islamist regime in Iran, and the Houthis in Yemen to refrain from taking “reckless risk of opening new fronts” in the war and risk destabilising the entire region.

Finally, the French president called for a restart of political negotiations to finally come to a settlement between Israel and Palestine on a two-state basis.

“Israel’s security cannot be sustainable without a decisive relaunch of the political process with the Palestinians,” he said, adding that Israel will have to accept “ the legitimate right of the Palestinians to have a territory and a state in peace and security alongside Israel.”

For his part, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that terror groups like Hamas and Hezbollah want to bring the world back to the “Middle Ages” and therefore the war in Israel represents a civilisation battle between the West and radical Islam.

“The test for the West and for civilisation is Hamas,” he said. “If Hamas emerges victorious, we will all lose, Europe will be endangered, everyone will be endangered, civilisation will be endangered.”

“That is why this battle is not merely our own, it’s Europe’s battle, it’s America’s battle, it’s civilisation’s battle. It’s a battle for the heart and soul of the Middle East and the Arab world.”

Netanyahu also issued a threat to Hezbollah, warning that Israel would be forced into an “unimaginable” response against Lebanon if the Islamist terror group enters the fighting in a “significant way”.

“If Hezbollah makes the mistake of joining this war, they will regret it, they will long for the Second Lebanon War,” he warned.

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