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Nevin Al Sukari - Sana'a - People walk along Al-Oyoun Street amid the rubble of buildings destroyed as Israel continues to bomb Gaza.
JERUSALEM, Feb 6 — French Foreign Minister Stephane Sejourne said yesterday that Israeli “settler violence must stop” against Palestinians in the occupied West Bank, following a meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
“Under no circumstances can there be forced displacement of Palestinians, neither out of Gaza nor out of the West Bank,” Sejourne said during a Middle East tour aimed at securing a truce between Israel and militant group Hamas in Gaza.
The French minister denounced anti-Palestinian rhetoric and “even calls to commit war crimes” by Israeli officials, after some Netanyahu allies have appeared to endorse Jewish re-settlement of the Gaza Strip after the war.
Sejourne called for supporting the West Bank-based Palestinian Authority of president Mahmud Abbas.
“The future of the Gaza Strip is inseparable from the future of the West Bank, we must prepare for this future by supporting the Palestinian Authority,” Sejourne said.
“It must renew itself and redeploy as soon as possible in the Gaza Strip,” where Hamas seized power in 2007, he added.
“I repeat: Gaza is Palestinian land,” the top French diplomat said on his first tour of the region since taking office in January.
The Palestinian militant group Hamas in 2007 ousted Gaza forces loyal to the Palestinian Authority, which exercises limited autonomy in parts of the West Bank.
Israel in 2005 withdrew troops and settlers from Gaza, but in the West Bank there are around 490,000 Israelis living among approximately three million Palestinians in settlements that are considered illegal under international law.
Since the October 7 attack triggered war between Israel and Hamas, at least 381 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli troops and settlers in the West Bank, according to the Palestinian health ministry in Ramallah.
Israeli rights group Yesh Din dubbed 2023 the “most violent” year on record for settler attacks.
Sejourne called for “a comprehensive political solution, with two states living in peace side by side”, urging the resumption of the peace process “without delay”.
Israel and the Palestinians have not held substantive peace talks in more than a decade.
“Without a political solution, there will be no just and lasting peace in the Middle East,” Sejourne said.
Later yesterday, Sejourne met his Palestinian counterpart Riyad al-Maliki as well as Abbas in Ramallah.
“I reiterated... the (French) demand of a durable ceasefire (in Gaza) for humanitarian reasons,” Sejourne said after the meetings, adding that “the questions of the hostages” still held in Gaza, among them three French nationals, remained “a priority for diplomatic action” by France. — AFP
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