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The French prime minister has departed from international legitimacy for Palestine

France's Prime Minister Jean Castex in Paris on March 1, 2022 [BERTRAND GUAY/AFP via Getty Images]
France's Prime Minister Jean Castex in Paris on March 1, 2022 [BERTRAND GUAY/AFP via Getty Images]

As far as the conflict in occupied Palestine is concerned, France stresses that the solution lies with two states living in peace and security on the 1967 borders, with Jerusalem as the common capital. The French call for the creation of a positive foundation for the launch of negotiations on the basis of the specific and realistic commitments of the two parties.

Led by President Emmanuel Macron, France also supports President Mahmoud Abbas and his initiative for an international conference to achieve peace under the auspices of the international Quartet and other parties. The Egyptian, Jordanian, French and German foreign ministers stressed during the fifth ministerial meeting in Munich last month the need to relaunch serious and effective negotiations between the Palestinians and Israelis to achieve a just and comprehensive peace based on the two-state solution.

They also reiterated their commitment to support efforts to achieve such a peace that meets the legitimate rights of all parties and on the basis of the two-state solution, in accordance with international law, relevant UN resolutions and agreed upon references, including the 2002 Arab Peace Initiative.

READ: Palestinians protest French statements on Jerusalem

Despite all of this, French Prime Minister Jean Castex expressed a contradictory position while attending the annual dinner of the Representative Council of French Jewish Institutions (CRIF). "Jerusalem is the eternal capital of the Jewish people," claimed Castex. "That does not stop anyone from recognising and respecting the attachment of other religions to this city." The French official also claimed that anti-Semitism is usually the work of "extremist Islamists", and added that he wanted to include the fight against anti-Semitism in all French higher education institutions "without respite".

Castex's statement contradicts the positions of his predecessor Macron, who stressed the "urgency of restoring peace" in the Middle East based on UN resolutions. Castex also contradicts the position of the EU whose leaders affirmed that its position on the status of Jerusalem remains firm, despite former US President Donald Trump's decision to recognise the holy city as the capital of Israel.

The strange thing about the timing of the French prime minister's statement regarding Jerusalem is that it comes when the voices of Europe and many countries around the world are condemning the Russian invasion of Ukraine, which the US and European countries consider to be a flagrant violation of international law, and an infringement of the sovereignty of the state. The same actually applies to Palestine, of course, which has been subjected to invasion, occupation and colonisation by the Israeli state, and Israel continues to commit crimes against the Palestinian people, seize their land, impose apartheid and expel them from their homes.

Amnesty labels Israel an apartheid state - Cartoon [Sabaaneh/Middle East Monitor]

Amnesty labels Israel an apartheid state – Cartoon [Sabaaneh/Middle East Monitor]

It would have been better for him, and for Europe's credibility, for the French official to condemn the actions and policies of Israel, as documented by Amnesty International, B'Tselem and Human Rights Watch, which all accuse the colonial state of the crime of apartheid. His biased position on Israel contradicts international laws and conventions. My question to Jean Castex is simple: does he have no regard for the legitimate rights of all people — including the Palestinians — as stipulated by international laws and conventions?

READ: PA protests against French PM's remarks on Jerusalem

The US and Western sanctions against Russia for invading Ukraine will never be repeated against Israel, despite its war crimes and crimes against humanity. The West should be ashamed of itself for its duplicity. You cannot claim the moral high ground about freedom and democracy, while supporting Israel's colonisation of Palestine and ethnic cleansing of the Palestinians.

Russia's war on Ukraine has revealed the true face of the West and its hypocrisy. The French prime minister's statements encapsulate this. The French government must surely provide an explanation of Castex's support for Israel, and then a robust retraction in line with its confirmed positions and international resolutions, all of which regard East Jerusalem as part of the territories occupied by Israel since 1967. Anything less will demonstrate France's blatant contempt for international law.

The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.

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