France will step up diplomatic efforts with Europe and Middle East countries "to de-escalate the deadly clashes" between Israel and Palestine, the country’s foreign minister announced Wednesday.
Concerned with the new round of intensifying clashes, which have taken a heavy toll, Jean-Yves Le Drian said France was fully mobilized with Germany in particular along with Egypt and Jordan to help reduce tensions.
The four countries will push Israel and Palestine to resume dialogue with the objective of a “just and lasting resolution of the conflict” within the framework of international law and UN Security Council resolutions, he announced in a statement to the Senate.
Le Drian said that at this point, the only priority was the “easing of tensions” and he would talk with his Israeli and Palestinian counterparts to convey about “de-escalation.”
The foreign minister’s statement follows his absence during the question and answer hour in the National Assembly Monday, when opposition lawmakers criticized the government’s “measured” response. In the first official statement released Monday, France did not criticize Israel’s attacks on Al-Aqsa Mosque and Palestinian worshippers but strongly condemned the “rocket attacks from the Gaza Strip targeting Israeli territory.”
Senators from the Communist party Clementine Autain and Elsa Faucillon also spoke, with Autain urging the government to condemn the abuses of Israel’s army and not merely express “concern” about the violent situation while Faucillon said that “France’s silence contributes to the impunity in which Israeli atrocities take place.”
Le Drian on Wednesday reaffirmed that France was “gravely concerned” about the situation in Jerusalem and said he discussed the issue of the “strict preservation of the historic status quo” of the Esplanade des Mosquees and the holy site of Bayt al Maqdis with Jordan.
He also condemned Israel’s colonization through forced evictions of Palestinian residents of East Jerusalem near the Old City and in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood and stressed on guaranteeing “the right to demonstrate peacefully.”
Le Drian said the ongoing situation stems from the lack of a political resolution that has gone on for too long and the solution lies in the establishment of two states living side by side in peace and security with Jerusalem as the capital of both states.