Facing fierce criticism at home, by media, politicians and even in his Socialist Party for his support of Israel’s right of self-defense since the beginning of Protective Edge Operation, French President François Hollande has made a determined effort to demonstrate his pro-Palestinian bona fides.
When Hamas was firing rockets at Israel in the first days of the war, and the Israel Air Force was responding with strikes on terrorist targets in the Gaza Strip, Hollande strongly defended the right of the Jewish state to defend itself and condemned the Islamist movement’s actions. Then his government leaded by Prime Minister Manuel Valls, who doesn’t want to see the Israeli- Palestinian conflict imported into France, banned, or at least tried to ban, pro-Palestinian demonstrations that had became more and more violent and anti-Semitic.
For all that, and for the so-called “alignment” of Hollande with the Israeli government, the president was criticized.
“Israel murderer, Hollande accomplice,” was among the slogans the Muslim and extreme-left-wing protesters shouted. Alain Krivine, one of the organizers of the protests, expressed in a recent rally his “disappointment” with his country for the supposed support given to Israel. He is a Trotskyite and founder of the New Anti-Capitalist Party.
Now, trying to portray himself as “more Catholic than the pope,” the president has tried to show his commitment to the Palestinian cause. After calling Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas recently and promising him a first installment of €10 million for Gaza, Hollande said on Monday that “there is an obligation to act, and Europe must meet its responsibilities, together with the UN.”
He spoke at a ceremony in Liege, Belgium, commemorating 100 years since the outbreak of World War I.
“How could one remain neutral when a people, not far from Europe, fights for its rights and its territorial integrity? How can one remain neutral when a murderous conflict [has been raging] in Gaza for a month?” Hollande asked.
During another ceremony the previous day also commemorating the start of WWI, Hollande said a truce with Hamas was needed “more than ever.”
“All efforts must be boosted to impose, now more than ever, a cease-fire in Gaza and end the suffering of the civilian population,” he said.
He appealed to the parties to put animosities aside, just as France and Germany had done.
“The history of France and Germany shows that “will can triumph over fatalism, and people who were regarded as hereditary enemies can in a few years reconcile,” Hollande said, in a speech in Vieil Armand in Alsace, overlooking the Rhine Valley.
He strongly condemned the Israeli attack that hit a school in Gaza, saying it was “unacceptable.”