France Threatens for the First Time to Impose Sanctions on Israel

French Foreign Minister calls for pressure on Israel to allow the passage of humanitarian aid to Gaza from inspection points

French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian stated today, Tuesday, that there should be exertion of pressure and perhaps imposition of sanctions on Israel to open crossings for the entry of humanitarian aid to Palestinians in the Gaza Strip, amid talk by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu about setting a date for invading Rafah despite broad international rejection of the move.

Le Drian told RFI radio and France 24 television channel, “There must be means of pressure, and there are multiple means including sanctions, to allow the passage of humanitarian aid from inspection points,” adding: “France is among the first countries to have proposed that the European Union impose sanctions on Israeli settlers who commit acts of violence in the West Bank. And we will continue if necessary until we can deliver humanitarian aid.”

France has changed its position regarding the war waged by Israel on the Gaza Strip, after being at the forefront of countries supportive of the Israeli state by endorsing what it considered its “right to self-defense” following the attack carried out by Hamas in October. In a suit filed by South Africa, the International Court of Justice ordered Israel to take measures to prevent any genocide against Palestinians and improve the humanitarian situation in Gaza, as the United States is also pressing for the entry of humanitarian aid.

The recent stance of Paris and some Western capitals diverges from that of Berlin, which has defended its absolute support for the Israeli state, with Germany asserting Tuesday before the International Court of Justice that Israel’s security is “at the heart” of its foreign policy, firmly rejecting accusations from Nicaragua that Berlin facilitates “genocide” in Gaza.

Lawyer Tania Goon Ouslar-Glischien, spokeswoman for Germany before the highest United Nations court based in The Hague, said: “Israel’s security is at the heart of German foreign policy,” emphasizing that Berlin “firmly rejects” accusations from Nicaragua.

Negotiations between Hamas and Israel for a ceasefire deal and a prisoner exchange continue. Hamas said Tuesday that Israel’s position it received during the latest round of negotiations in Cairo was still obstinate, but it was studying it “with national responsibility” and would communicate its response to the mediators once finished.

In a statement published on its website, the movement stressed, “During the latest round of negotiations in Cairo, we received the (Israeli) position after the efforts of mediators in Egypt, Qatar, and America.”

It added that it “greatly appreciated the efforts made by the mediators,” affirming “the commitment of the movement to reach an agreement to end the (Israeli) aggression” against Gaza. However, it specified that “the Israeli position remains obstinate and has not responded to any of the demands of our people and our resistance.”

Mediation efforts by Qatar, Egypt, and the United States aim to reach a deal for a prisoner exchange and a second ceasefire between Israel and Hamas, following the first one that lasted a week until early last December.

On Monday, the Israeli negotiating delegation returned from the Egyptian capital, Cairo, led by Mossad chief David Barnea, for further consultations in Tel Aviv.

In contrast, Netanyahu mentioned Monday night a “specified date” (undisclosed) for the invasion of the city of Rafah in southern Gaza to achieve what he called “complete victory” over the Hamas movement, despite international warnings against any military operation in the city, which is the last refuge for the displaced.

Gaza’s Health Ministry announced yesterday, Monday, that at least 33,207 Palestinians have been killed in the ongoing conflict for the past six months. Most of Gaza’s 2.3 million inhabitants are homeless and on the brink of famine.

According to Israeli statistics, the Palestinian Islamic resistance movement Hamas killed 1,200 people in its attack on southern Israel on October 7, triggering the conflict.

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