Macron: US embassy move to Jerusalem behind Gaza violence
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Macron: US embassy move to Jerusalem behind Gaza violence

Breaking with US and Israeli position that border protests not linked to US recognition of capital, French president says when people are dying 'it is not a celebration'

French President Emmanuel Macron, left, and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu attend a meeting at the Elysee Palace, in Paris, June 5, 2018. Philippe Wojazer, pool via AP)
French President Emmanuel Macron, left, and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu attend a meeting at the Elysee Palace, in Paris, June 5, 2018. Philippe Wojazer, pool via AP)

French President Emmanuel Macron on Tuesday said that the US transfer of its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem last month sparked deadly violence in Gaza and did not promote peace.

US President Donald Trump’s administration and some Israeli officials have maintained that the violence was unconnected to the embassy transfer, which they said was just an excuse for Gazan terrorists to carry out attacks.

“If [moving the embassy] leads to people dying, it’s not a celebration,” Macron said, referring to widespread violence on the Gaza border at the same time the embassy was moved in which dozens of Palestinians were killed.

He added that France wants to help alleviate the dire humanitarian situation in the Gaza Strip.

Macron spoke at a joint press conference with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the Elysee Palace in Paris after the two leaders held talks.\

The French president expressed his “condemnation of any form of violence toward civilians and in particular, these past few weeks in Gaza.”

A Palestinian woman holding her national flag looks at clashes with Israeli forces near the border between the Gaza Strip and Israel east of Gaza City on May 14, 2018 (AFP/Mahmud Hams)

Netanyahu met with Macron as part of his European tour, aiming to rally support from allies against the Iran nuclear deal and to help push Iranian forces out of Syria.

However, tensions with Gaza have became a major theme of his talks with European leaders.

On Monday, Netanyahu said he discussed alleviating Gaza’s humanitarian situation with German Chancellor Angela Merkel. He said the the weekly protests on the border are a symptom of the Hamas terror group which rules the Strip failing to pull the enclave out of a dire situation which has left millions without electricity or clean water.

Over 110 Gazans have been killed in border protests since March 30, including over 60 on May 14, the day the US moved its embassy. Hamas said 50 of the May 14 fatalities were its members. May 14 was also the eve of “Nakba Day,” when the Palestinians mark what they call the “catastrophe” that befell them with the establishment of Israel.

CNN shows the US embassy opening in Jerusalem on a split screen with violence on the Gaza border, May 14, 2018 (Screenshot)

Most international observers linked the violence to the embassy move, which has angered Palestinians and drawn condemnation from around the world.

News broadcasts that day showed split screens of Israeli and US officials celebrating the opening in Jerusalem, while less than 50 miles away some 40,000 Palestinians protested at the Gaza border and faced off against Israeli troops in a violent melee.

A picture taken on May 14, 2018, from the southern Israeli kibbutz of Nahal Oz across the border with the Gaza Strip shows Israeli soldiers keeping position and Palestinian protesters gathering along the border fence with Israel. (AFP/JACK GUEZ)

Israel says its forces have opened fire to stop attempts to harm soldiers, damage the fence, infiltrate Israel, and attempt to carry out attacks. Israel accuses Hamas, a terror group which seeks Israel’s destruction, of seeking to use the protests as cover to carry out violence.

At least half of those killed since the protests began in March have been identified as members of Hamas or other terror groups.

Netanyahu is next scheduled to meet with UK Prime Minister Theresa May.

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