In call with Netanyahu, Macron urges against moves that ‘fuel cycle of violence’

French president expresses ‘complete solidarity’ with Israel in fight against terror, days after terror attack that killed 7 Israelis in Jerusalem

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (right) hosts French President Emmanuel Macron at the Prime Minister's Residence in Jerusalem, January 22, 2020. (Koby Gideon/GPO/File)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (right) hosts French President Emmanuel Macron at the Prime Minister's Residence in Jerusalem, January 22, 2020. (Koby Gideon/GPO/File)

French President Emmanuel Macron called for restraint and urged Israelis and Palestinians on Sunday not to “feed the spiral of violence” following a terror attack on Friday that killed seven Israelis and injured three near a synagogue in East Jerusalem’s Neve Yaakov neighborhood. In a second attack a day later, a 13-year-old Palestinian shot and wounded two people outside the capital’s Old City.

Macron spoke with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu by phone on Sunday and stressed the “need for all to avoid measures likely to fuel the cycle of violence,” the Elysée Palace said in a press statement late Sunday. The palace said Macron “expressed his availability to contribute to the resumption of dialogue between the Palestinians and the Israelis.”

The French president also offered his condolences to Israel and the families of the victims of Friday’s terror rampage and again condemned the “despicable attack,” the deadliest in Israel in over a decade.

In the call with Netanyahu, Macron also “expressed France’s full and complete solidarity with Israel in its fight against terrorism” and repeated “France’s unwavering attachment to Israel’s security, the palace said.

The attacks were widely condemned globally, including by the US, the UK, the United Arab Emirates, and Turkey.

The terror attacks followed days of violence in the West Bank where tensions have increased dramatically since Thursday morning, when an Israel Defense Forces raid in the West Bank against a terrorist cell left nine Palestinians dead — most of them gunmen and members of the cell, though at least one civilian was also killed.

Victims killed in a terror attack in Jerusalem on January 27, 2023, clockwise from top right: Asher Natan, 14, Eli, 48, and Natali Mizrahi, 45, Ilya Sosansky, 26, Rafael Ben Eliyahu, 56, Irina Korolova, 59, and Shaul Hai, 68. (Courtesy)

The IDF said Thursday’s operation in the Jenin refugee camp was necessary to foil imminent attack plans by a local Islamic Jihad terror cell. The group had primed explosives and firearms, according to the IDF.

Overnight Thursday-Friday, Gazans fired several rockets toward southern Israel and Israeli Air Force warplanes carried out sorties in the Gaza Strip early Friday as tit-for-tat fighting broke out amid sky-high tensions, although both sides appeared intent on avoiding an escalation into a full-scale war.

In response to the Palestinian terror attacks Friday and Saturday, which also included separate suspected attempts in the West Bank, Netanyahu said during a meeting held late Saturday night that the security cabinet had decided on a series of steps to “combat terror and exact a price from terrorists and their supporters.”

Ministers elected to cancel National Insurance and other benefits for the families of terrorists who support their actions. Netanyahu also said “thousands of civilians” will be granted permits to carry firearms by expediting and expanding the licensing process in response to the attacks, which were followed by celebrations in Palestinian cities.

Mourners attend the funeral of couple Eli Mizrahi and his wife, Natali, victims of a terror attack Friday in Jerusalem, at a cemetery in Beit Shemesh, early Sunday, January 29, 2023. (AP/Ariel Schalit)

Netanyahu said in a statement Sunday that his government would also seek to enact fresh measures against terrorists’ families, including revoking their residency or citizenship and deporting them to territory controlled by the Palestinian Authority. A statement from Netanyahu’s office said the premier demanded that legislation on the matter be prepared, as well as a bill to allow employers to fire workers who express support for terror without the usual required hearing.

Netanyahu also said officials decided on steps to “strengthen settlements” in the coming week, without providing further details.

On Sunday, Israel moved to seal off the home of the terrorist who killed the seven Israelis.

Sealing the homes of attackers is often a replacement or stopgap for demolishing them. In general, the demolition process takes several months, as the home needs to be mapped out, the High Court must address appeals by the family, and security forces often wait an optimal time to enter Palestinian cities or neighborhoods for the operation.

In their call Sunday, Macron and Netanyahu also discussed regional matters, including Iran’s pursuit of nuclear weapons and its destabilizing force in the Mideast. Macron urged for a firm approach toward “increasingly worrying developments and the Iranians’ lack of transparency,” the palace said.

Macron also said Iran’s support for Russia in its almost year-long war on Ukraine, in the form of weapons production and sales, “exposes Iran to sanctions and growing isolation.

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