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Macron speaks with Abbas over rising violence in West Bank

French president condemns Israeli settlement policy and urges Palestinian leader to conclude investigations into death of slain Al Jazeera journalist

French President Emmanuel Macron (L) and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas meeting at the PA presidential headquarters in Ramallah on January 22, 2020. (Wafa)
French President Emmanuel Macron (L) and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas meeting at the PA presidential headquarters in Ramallah on January 22, 2020. (Wafa)

French President Emmanuel Macron spoke Saturday with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas expressing his concern over the recent surge in violence in the region and calling to conclude investigations into the death of slain Al Jazeera journalist Shireen Abu Akleh.

Macron told Abbas of his “concern” at “the deterioration of the situation” in the West Bank and his “availability” to help broker a “lasting peace” in the region, according to a statement from Macron’s office.

The French president also “deplored the continuation of the (Israeli ) settlement policy and reminded Abbas of France’s unwavering commitment to respect the legitimate rights of the Palestinians,” the statement said.

The Israeli military has stepped up operations in the West Bank following a series of terror attacks on Israeli cities beginning in March that have killed 19 people. The ensuing raids sparked clashes that left at least 30 Palestinians dead including Abu Akleh.

Palestinian officials have said Israeli troops stationed nearby killed her. The Israeli army says she was shot during a battle between troops and Palestinian gunmen, and it cannot be determined who fired the fatal bullet without a proper analysis.

The Palestinians have refused to hand over the bullet for analysis.

In the call, Macron sent “condolences to the Palestinian people” for Abu Akleh’s death and noted “the importance for France that all light be shed on the circumstances of her death.”

Meanwhile, Abbas urged France and the international community to pressure Israel to halt settlement construction and end the evictions of Palestinians in East Jerusalem neighborhoods, according to the official Palestinian WAFA news agency.

Macron also spoke with King Abdullah II of Jordan, his office said, during which Macron “reiterated his full support for the Hashemite Kingdom in responding to the security and economic challenges it faces.”

Both Abbas and Abdullah congratulated the French president on his re-election on April 24, the statement said.

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